THE US military has carried out an air strike against a senior al-Shabab militant in Somalia and is still reviewing the results of the operation, the Pentagon said Friday.
The Pentagon declined to comment on reports, citing Kenyan officials, that the strike targeted and killed a Shabaab figure who orchestrated the 2013 attack on the Westgate mall in Nairobi, which left 67 people dead.
The operation, which did not involve US troops on the ground, took place on Thursday on a road south of Mogadishu and focused on “a high-value target,” spokesman Colonel Steven Warren told reporters.
“This operation was conducted against the al-Shabaab network,” Warren said. “We are currently assessing the results of this operation and will provide additional information as and when appropriate.”
An armed drone carried out the strike, a US defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told AFP.
Revenge attack on Kenya
In what seems like an angry response, hours later the Shabaab killed three people and wounded eight more wounded on Friday in the latest cross-border raid, an official said.
Grenades and gunfire were aimed at a convoy carrying Mandera county governor Ali Roba, leaving two police and a civilian dead, although Roba escaped unharmed, Mandera East deputy county commissioner Elvis Korir said. “The governor’s vehicle had passed a few minutes before the attack on the security officers escorting him,” said Korir.
The ambush was claimed by the Al-Qaeda-affiliated rebels. “A Shabaab commando unit attacked a Kenyan convoy travelling from Mandera to Nairobi,” said Shabaab military spokesman Abdulaziz Abu Musab.
He said the militants destroyed two vehicles, hijacked another and captured weapons. “The idea was to kill the governor, and all the people with him,” said the spokesman. “We are at war with Kenya and such attacks must continue.”
Roba’s convoy was previously ambushed in October 2014.
Mandera, in Kenya’s far northeast, borders Somalia and is plagued by insecurity. The area has been the scene of a string of recent Shebab attacks.
In November, Shabaab gunmen held up a bus outside Mandera town on the same stretch of road as Friday’s ambush. The militants separated passengers according to religion and executed 28 non-Muslims. Ten days later 36 non-Muslim quarry workers were also massacred.