US confirms airstrike killed al-Shabaab commander in Somalia

2017-08-04 18:22
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Mogadishu - The US military on Friday confirmed it killed a high-level commander of the al-Shabaab extremist group with an airstrike in Somalia over the weekend, targeting a man blamed for planning deadly attacks in the capital of the Horn of Africa nation.

President Donald Trump earlier this year approved expanded military operations against the al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabaab, including more aggressive airstrikes and considering parts of southern Somalia areas of active hostilities. Al-Shabaab is the deadliest Islamic extremist group in Africa.

A US Africa Command statement said the strike on July 30 killed Ali Mohamed Hussein, also known as Ali Jabal. He is the highest-level al-Shabaab commander killed this year.

The statement said he was "was responsible for leading al-Shabaab forces operating in the Mogadishu and Banadiir regions in planning and executing attacks against the capital of Mogadishu."

Ali also had served as the extremist group's shadow governor for Mogadishu and had been one of al-Shabaab's most outspoken officials. In his last public speech earlier this year, he boasted that the extremist group had the upper hand in guerrilla warfare against Somalia's government in the capital.

The US statement said the airstrike occurred near Tortoroow, an al-Shabaab stronghold in Lower Shabelle region in southern Somalia "as a direct response to al-Shabaab actions, including recent attacks on Somali forces." It said no civilians were killed in the strike.

The US Africa Command has told The Associated Press it was a drone strike.

Al-Shabaab often carries out deadly attacks on high-profile targets in Mogadishu, including Somali military and African Union checkpoints and facilities, hotels and the area around the presidential palace.

The killing of Ali "disrupts al-Shabaab's ability to plan and conduct attacks in Mogadishu and coordinate efforts between Al-Shabaab regional commanders," the US statement said.

The US has carried out a handful of airstrikes since Trump's expansion of military efforts. The US military in early July said it carried out an airstrike against al-Shabaab in Somalia and was assessing the results, with few details.

The airstrike followed one in June that the US said killed eight extremists at a rebel command and logistics camp in the south.

The Somalia-based al-Shabaab recently mocked Trump in a video that called him a "brainless billionaire." The extremist group also has vowed to step up attacks in Somalia after the president elected in February declared a new offensive against al-Shabaab.

The extremist group also has carried out deadly attacks in neighboring countries, notably Kenya, calling it retribution for sending troops to Somalia to fight it.

Read more on:    al qaeda  |  al shabaab  |  kenya  |  somalia  |  east africa

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