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Officials: Al-Shabab leader killed in Somalia drone strike

Al-Shabab is responsible for attacks that claimed dozens of lives [AFP]

Date of publication: 2 April, 2016

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A key leader of Somalia's al-Shabab militant group was killed with two others in a US operation on Thursday, Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said in a statement.
A US drone strike in Somalia has targeted "a key leader" of the al-Shabab militant group who was involved in two attacks in Mogadishu more than a year ago that killed more than 30 people, including at least three Americans, the Pentagon said on Friday.

Hassan Ali Dhoore was targeted in the airstrike on Thursday, but the US military was still assessing the results, Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said in a statement.

Other US officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the bombing occurred about 20 miles south of Jilib in southern Somalia, not far from the Kenya border, killing Dhoore and two others.

Cook said Dhoore had helped facilitate a deadly Christmas Day 2014 attack at Mogadishu International Airport and a March 2015 attack at the Maka al-Mukarramah Hotel.

One senior official also said that Dhoore was believed to be involved in plotting more attacks that would have targeted US citizens.

According to Cook, Dhoore - who was reportedly also a member of al-Qaeda - worked for al-Shabab's security and intelligence wing.

Killing Dhoore "would be a significant blow to al-Shabab's operational planning and ability to conduct attacks", he said.

In the Christmas 2014 assault, gunmen attacked the African Union's main base - a fortress of a camp along the seafront in which the country's main airport was then located - leading to an exchange of gunfire between militants and soldiers that killed at least nine people, including three soldiers.

Three months later, gunmen from the al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabab group launched an attack in the reception area of a hotel in the Somali capital, killing at least 24, including six of the attackers.

Thursday's operation was not the first US attack on al-Shabab militants in recent memory.

Last month, a US airstrike on what has been reported as a training camp run by the militant group killed more than 150 people who were allegedly planning a "large-scale" attack, the Pentagon said at the time.

"Their removal will degrade al-Shabab's ability to meet the group's objectives in Somalia, which includes recruiting new members, establishing bases and planning attacks on US and AMISON (African Union Mission to Somalia) forces there," said Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis.

The training camp had been under surveillance for some time ahead of the strike.

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