Somalia says top Al-Shabab intel official killed in U.S. airstrike


A top intelligence official with Somalia’s Al-Qaeda-affiliated Al-Shabab rebels was killed in a U.S. airstrike Monday, Somalia’s government said.

“In a joint operation last night by the Somali national security and the United States, Al-Shabab intelligence chief Abdishakur, also known as Tahlil, who replaced the recently arrested former chief, was eliminated,” Somalia’s National Security Agency said in a statement Tuesday.

“Two other Al-Shabab members also died in the attack,” it said, adding the airstrike took place near the town of Saacow, 320 km west of the capital Mogadishu and in the Middle Juba region.

In Washington, the Pentagon had announced overnight that U.S. war planes had carried out a strike against a senior Al-Shabab leader, but did not give the name of the person targeted.

U.S. military spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby said, however, that he was confident there were no “civilian or bystander casualties.”

Last week Somali officials announced that Zakariya Ismail Ahmed Hersi, identified as a Al-Shabab intelligence chief and the subject of a $3 million bounty as part of the U.S. State Department “Rewards for Justice” program, had given himself up to government troops and was under arrest.

He was also said to have been close to the Al-Shabab’s previous leader Ahmed Abdi Godane, who was killed by a U.S. airstrike in September. The statement from Somalia’s National Security Agency said he was now in their custody.