WASHINGTON (AP) - A U.S. drone strike on Friday targeted a senior military commander of al-Shabab in Somalia, the Pentagon said Wednesday, adding that they can’t confirm yet if he was killed.
U.S. officials also said that American forces provided some support to an African-led military operation in Somalia that targeted Mohamed Dulyadayn, who is believed to be the mastermind of the Garissa University attack in Kenya in April 2015 which killed 148 people. Dulyadayn is also known as Kuno Gamadere.
The officials were not authorized to discuss the operation publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. They said they did not have details of that operation and they have not yet confirmed if Dulyadayn was killed. They said the U.S. did not conduct the operation, but provided advice and assistance.
Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook said that the U.S. drone strike in south-central Somalia targeted Abdullahi Haji Da’ud, a key coordinator of al-Shabab attacks in the region. Da’ud also previously served as head of the group’s intelligence.
“We are confident that the removal from the terrorist network of this experienced al-Shabaab commander with extensive operational experience will disrupt near-term attack planning, potentially saving many innocent lives,” Cook said, adding that the U.S. is still assessing the results of the strike.
The strike comes two months after a similar drone attack in Somalia killed an al-Shabab leader, Hassan Ali Dhoore.
Dhoore helped facilitate a deadly Christmas Day 2014 attack at Mogadishu International Airport and a March 2015 attack at the Maka al-Mukarramah Hotel.
The U.S. has routinely provided support, including helicopter transportation at times, for troops from the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), which is the peacekeeping operation there.
Associated Press writer Tom Odula in Nairobi contributed to this report.
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