|World leaders met in London to discuss Somalia and its problems of political instability, civil war and piracy. [Reuters]|
A US air military drone strike in southern Somalia has killed four al-Shabab fighters, officials said.
The strike destroyed two vehicles in a convoy in an area known as K60 around 60km south of the capital, Mogadishu.
The US military, which has a base in neighbouring Djibouti, has previously carried out drone strikes in Somalia.
Officials in Somalia confirmed to the AP news agency that Friday’s attack took place in the Lower Shabelle region, where al-Shabab still control large territory.
Eyewitnesses say the missile strike at 00:00GMT was heard many miles away.
A US official in Washington confirmed the attack was carried out by a US drone.
A second US official said an “international” member of al-Shabab was the target of the strike, though he said a white Kenyan reported killed in the attack was not the target.
But some local media reported that one of the dead was a prominent Kenyan jihadi fighter.
Somalia’s al-Shabab formally merged with al-Qaida this month, after being forced out of Mogadishu facing military attacks on three sides.
Al-Shabab is said to have 200 of foreign fighters – many of whom have fighting experience in Iraq and Afghanistan – among its ranks.
The airstrike is one of many multiple attacks inside Somalia by the US military against high-ranking al-Shabab targets in recent years.
Last month, a raid by Navy SEALs rescued an American and a Danish hostage from a gang of criminals.
The US military actions in Somalia are representative of the Obama administration’s pledge to build a smaller, more agile military force that can carry out surgical counterterrorist strikes to cripple an enemy.
Kenya’s military has also launched multiple airborne attacks in southern Somalia since Kenyan troops moved into the region in October.
On Thursday, Kenya said it had arrested five Kenyan men and one Tanzanian suspected to have al-Shabab links near the Somalia border.
Friday’s attack comes after global leaders met in London on Thursday who called for urgent action on Somalia, warning that the world will “pay the price” for failing to help the country tackle its problems of political instability, civil war and piracy.