Al-Shabab denies Kenya has killed its spy chief

Kenyan air force jet, F5, from 2008 Image copyright AP
Image caption Kenyan warplanes have targeted al-Shabab positions in Somalia on numerous occasions since 2011

Militant Islamist group al-Shabab has denied that its intelligence chief has been killed in a Kenyan air strike in southern Somalia.

Mohammed Karatey and 10 other al-Shabab commanders were killed in the strike on 8 February, the Kenyan army said.

He played a key role in last month's deadly attack on a Kenyan military base in neighbouring Somalia, it added.

But al-Shabab, which is part of al-Qaeda, said Karatey was alive and there had been no attempt on his life.

Kenya was only trying to win public support for its military campaign in Somalia by alleging he had been killed, a spokesman for the group said on local radio.

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Al-Shabab said it had killed about 100 Kenyan troops in the attack on base in southern Somalia's el-Ade town on 15 January.

Kenyan confirmed the attack, but declined to give casualty figures.

It has since carries out a series of strikes targeting the militants in Somalia.

The Kenyan army said Karate was at an al-Shabab camp to preside over the passing out parade of dozens of recruits, including suicide bombers, when he was killed.

More than 40 other militants were also killed when the camp, between the towns of Buale and Sakow, was targeted, the army added.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Al-Shabab controls many areas in rural Somalia

Last April, the US State Department designated Karatey, also known as Abdirahim Mohamed Warsame, as a terrorist.

He played a major role in the massacre of 147 people - mostly students - at Kenya's Garissa University last year, it added.

Kenya contributes more than 4,000 troops to the 22,000-strong AU force that is in Somalia helping the UN-backed government battle al-Shabab, which is part of al-Qaeda.

Its troops first entered Somalia in 2011 in an effort to stop the militants from carrying cross border attacks and kidnapping people.

Al-Shabab, which is fighting to establish an Islamic state in Somalia, was ousted from the capital, Mogadishu, in August 2011, but still has a presence in large areas of southern Somalia and often stages attacks across the country.

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