[QODLink]
Africa

US 'drone strike' kills senior Shabab members

Witnesses say two killed as anonymous US official confirms an attack was launched in southern Somalia.

Last Modified: 29 Oct 2013 06:27
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback

A US military strike has hit a car carrying senior members of the al-Shabab armed group in Somalia, killing at least two people including the group's top explosives expert, according to rebel and US sources.

The unnamed US official told the Associated Press news agency that there was a US strike against a target in Somalia on Monday but would give no further details.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because there was no authorisation to discuss the strike publicly.

It was after afternoon prayers between 1:30pm and 2pm when I heard a loud bang.  Just one big bang.

Witness in Jilib town

An al-Shabab member who gave his name as Abu Mohamed said one of those killed was al-Shabab's top explosives expert, known as Anta.

He said a drone fired at the car in Somalia's Middle Juba region. It was not clear how Mohamed would know it was a drone strike, except that he said no attack helicopters were seen.

Four witnesses at the scene confirmed the strike to Al Jazeera and said that both fighters killed were Somali men. The rebels are known to have foreign fighters in their ranks.

"It was after afternoon prayers between 1:30pm and 2pm when I heard a loud bang. Just one big bang," a witness from Jilib told Al Jazeera.

"I came to the scene shortly after. I saw two dead bodies. Then al-Shabab fighters came to scene and took the bodies from the Suzuki vehicle. It was a drone strike."

A Somali intelligence official in Mogadishu said the attack was launched as al-Shabab members went to intervene in a clan dispute. The official insisted on anonymity because he is not authorised to share intelligence.

Earlier this month, US Navy SEALs raided a coastal Somali town in an attempt to kill a Kenyan al-Shabab member. The SEALs failed to capture or kill their target after meeting resistance from al-Shabab fighters.

The target of that attack - Abdulkadir Mohamed Abdulkadir, known as Ikrima  - was identified as the lead planner of a plot by al-Shabab to attack Kenya's parliament building and the United Nations office in Nairobi in 2011 and 2012.

Although the US does not report its activities in Somalia, drones have been used in recent years to kill Somali and foreign al Shabaab fighters.

If a drone strike in southern Somalia is confirmed, it will underscore the increasing importance with which Western countries see military operations in the Horn of Africa, particularly in Somalia. The country has seen several military attacks  - often reported as drone strikes - in recent years.

Al-Shabab attacked a shopping centre in Nairobi, in neighboring Kenya, on September 21 with guns and grenades, killing at least 67 people. It has promised more attacks on Kenyan soil unless Kenya withdraws its troops from Somalia.

471

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
As Western stars re-release 1980s charity hit, many Africans say it's a demeaning relic that can do more harm than good.
At least 25 tax collectors have been killed since 2012 in Mogadishu, a city awash in weapons and abject poverty.
Tokyo government claims its homeless population has hit a record low, but analysts - and the homeless - beg to differ.
3D printers can cheaply construct homes and could soon be deployed to help victims of catastrophe rebuild their lives.
Featured
Pro-Russia leaders' election in Ukraine's east shows bloody conflict is far from a peaceful resolution.
Critics challenge Canberra's move to refuse visas for West Africans in Ebola-besieged countries.
A key issue for Hispanics is the estimated 11.3 million immigrants in the US without papers who face deportation.
In 1970, only two mosques existed in the country, but now more than 200 offer sanctuary to Japan's Muslims.
Hundreds of the country's reporters eke out a living by finding news - then burying it for a price.