THE militant group al-Shabab’s intelligence chief was killed in a US airstrike near the Southern Somalia town of Saakow, the government has confirmed.
A statement Tuesday by Somalia’s security service said Abdishakur Tahlil was killed along with two others in Monday’s strike.
Early Tuesday the US said it had conducted an air strike against al-Shabab in Somalia.
Its target was a “senior leader” in the area of Saakow, according to a statement by the US Defence department. At that point, it did not identify the leader targeted in the latest strike or say whether the strike was successful.
The US has supported the African Union (AU) force that has driven al-Shabaab out of the capital Mogadishu and other towns since 2011.
The Somalia statement said Tahlil was travelling between Saakow and the village of Jawari when his vehicle was destroyed.
The air raid comes barely two days after the intelligence chief of the militant group, Zakariya Ismail Ahmed Hersi, surrendered himself to the government, and caps a bad four months for the militants.
In September, al-Shabaab leader Ahmed Abdi Godane was killed in a US air strike.
The al-Qaeda affiliated group is trying to overthrow the Somali government and turn the country into a conservative Islamic state.
The setbacks for al-Shabaab do not mean it’s end is near. Rather, experts in East Africa warn, it makes it more dangerous.
On Christmas day it launched a daring raid on the African Union peacekeeping force AMISOM’s heavily fortified headquartered base in the capital Mogadishu. Three soldiers and a civilian contractor were killed, and at least 10 militants also perished in the raid. Two others were captured, AMISOM said.
On December 1, al-Shabaab gunmen slaughtered 36 Kenyan quarry workers in Mandera, near the country’s northern border with Somalia.
Barely a week earlier, the militants stopped a bus travelling to the capital Nairobi in the same region, took the Christians off the vehicle and shot them at close range.
In the quarry attack too, those killed were non-Muslim, and some who attempted to escape were recaptured and beheaded.
Calling it “an act of war”, Kenya’s president Uhuru Kenyatta pushed through a wide-ranging anti-terrorism law that was passed after a mighty brawl in Parliament between government and opposition legislators, with the latter alleging some of the privisions were Draconian.