Al-Shabaab leader's fate unclear after U.S. drone strike

SEPTEMBER 2, 2014

It remains unclear if the leader of the Islamic militant group, Al-Shabaab, was wounded or killed after a US drone strike on Monday that targeted senior leaders of the Somali terrorist group, a Somali official said Tuesday.

The US only announced that it carried out an operation in Somalia against Al-Shabaab, but would not give more details.

The US drone strike targeted a village between Dhaab Tubaako and Haaway in an area controlled by Al-Shabaab, said Abdikadir Mohamed Nur Sidii, governor of Somalia's Lower Shabelle region.

"I never heard such a huge and deafening blast as the result of the airstrike," Sidii said. "It jolted the entire region."

Top Al-Shabaab commanders were reportedly meeting in the area planning to counter a joint offensive by Somali and African Union troops aimed at dislodging them from their nearby strongholds. Al-Shabaab is under pressure from Somali forces and the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), which launched an operation last week to cut off Al-Shabaab supply lines along the Somali coast.

The governor said those commanders included leader Ahmed Abdi Godane and his deputy Abu Abdalla.

"We can't confirm how many leaders were killed in the attack," he said. "We will confirm later."

The US designated Al-Shabaab, which is linked to Al Qaeda, as a foreign terrorist organization in March 2008. The group hopes to turn Somalia into a fundamentalist Islamic state and has launched attacks in other neighbouring countries as well. It claimed responsibility for the siege of the Westgate mall in Nairobi last September 21 that killed at least 67 people.

Under President Barack Obama, the US has targeted Al-Shabaab leaders in Somalia at least twice in the past year, including an airstrike in January.

On Monday, AMISOM announced that military forces had liberated several important towns from the terrorists' grip, in the Middle Shabelle and Hiiran regions.

Photo caption: FATE UNCLEAR... It remains unclear if the leader of the Islamic militant group, Al-Shabaab, Ahmed Abdi Godane, was wounded or killed after a US drone strike on Monday that targeted senior leaders of the Somali terrorist group, a Somali official said Tuesday. photo courtesy of sabahionline.