The Pentagon has carried out a missile strike on Somalia, targeting a vehicle that was believed to be carrying a suspected leader of the al-Shabab terrorist network with ties to al Qaeda.
A U.S. military official told Reuters on condition of anonymity that the strike was carried out Sunday in southern Somalia, but did not disclose further details, including the identity of the suspect or whether the strike was deemed successful.
However, local residents said that an al-Shabab commander and four others were killed by the strike near the coastal Somali town of Barawe. The residents told the BBC’s Somalia correspondent that al-Shabab commander Sahal Iskudhuq was killed as he and the others were traveling in a convoy hit by a missile.
The Reuters story noted that the the town of Barawe is a militant stronghold and was the site of a failed, clandestine raid by American commandos in October, which had targeted a militant known as Ikrima.
The U.S. forces pulled without capturing Ikrima after a gun battle erupted during the raid. Officials say the militant as a planner and operator who has relentlessly plotted attacks on neighboring Kenya.
U.S. intelligence officials describe Al-Shabab as an al Qeada affiliate organization in North Africa. The group has spent nearly a decade fighting to impose Islamic sharia law over parts of Somalia, but made international headlines in September by killing more than 65 people during a terrorist attack on an upscale shopping mall in neighboring Kenya.