Africa

US strike in Somalia 'killed al-Shabab intelligence chief'

Armed members of the militant group al-Shabab attend a rally on the outskirts of Mogadishu, Somalia in this February 2012 file photo. Image copyright AP
Image caption Al-Shabab militants have been driven out of the group's strongholds in Somalia

A leader of the al-Shabab Islamist group was killed by a US air strike on Monday, US and Somali officials say.

The intelligence chief, named as Tahlil Abdishakur, was part of a unit responsible for suicide attacks, security officials said.

US defence chiefs have confirmed that the al-Shabab leader died.

Washington has supported an African Union (AU) force, which has driven the fundamentalist group from strongholds across Somalia since 2011.

The Pentagon said US forces conducted the strike using an unmanned aircraft, or drone, in the area of Saakow, about 320km (200 miles) west of the Somali capital, Mogadishu.

In a statement, US officials said the death of Tahlil would "significantly impact" al-Shabab's ability to conduct attacks "against the government of the Federal Republic of Somalia, the Somali people, and US allies and interests in the region".

Somalia's National Intelligence and Security Agency said that two other al-Shabab members had also died in the operation.

The agency said Tahlil had just replaced al-Shabab's former intelligence chief, who was arrested a few days ago.

Zakariya Ahmed Ismail Hersi gave himself up to the Somali government three days earlier.

Mr Hersi, a leading figure in the militant group's intelligence wing, surrendered to police in the Gedo region.

In June 2012, the US state department offered $3m (£1.9m; 2.5m euros) for information leading to his capture.

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