- Associated Press - Thursday, February 18, 2016

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) - An airstrike killed the head of intelligence of the Somali-based extremist group al-Shabab, who is believed to have been among those who planned attacks on Kenyans, Kenya’s military said Thursday. Al-Shabab denied the claim.

Mahad Karate, also known as Abdirahim Mohamed Warsame, was killed along with 10 mid-level al-Shabab members and 42 recruits in an airstrike 10 days ago in Nadris camp in Somalia’s south, military spokesman Col. David Obonyo said.

Al-Shabab denied the claim, saying it was aimed at drawing attention from “significant losses” of Kenyan soldiers in a recent attack by al-Shabab in Somalia.

“The claims by Kenyan government that it killed what they called the al-Shabab intelligence chief is a mere fabrication,” the online al-Shabab radio Andulus said.

Karate had gone to the camp to preside over a graduation ceremony for an estimated 80 recruits into the Amniyat wing of al-Shabab, Obonyo said. Obonyo said suicide bombers deployed from the Amniyat took part last month’s attack on the Kenyan army base in El Adde, Somalia- believed to be worst defeat Kenyan forces have ever suffered in the battlefield. Al-Shabab claims more than 100 soldiers died in the attack. Kenyan authorities have declined to release the official death toll.

The U.S State Department says Amniyat is al-Shabaab’s intelligence wing, which plays a key role in the execution of suicide attacks and assassinations in Somalia, Kenya, and other countries in the region.

The State Department in April designated Karate a terrorist, saying he played key role in the Amniyat, which was responsible for the April attack on Garissa University College in Kenya that resulted in nearly 150 deaths.

Al-Shabaab wants to topple Somalia’s weak government and has launched extremist attacks on neighboring countries that have sent troops to back Somalia’s government.

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Guled reported from Mogadishu, Somalia

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