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US drone attack targets Somali militant commander

A US military airstrike in Somalia has targeted a senior commander of the al-Shabab militant group, says the Pentagon.

The Pentagon on Wednesday added, however, that it could not yet confirm if Abdullahi Haji Daud, the former head of the group’s intelligence and a key figure in al-Shabab’s regional attacks, was killed in the Friday attack.

“We are confident that the removal from the terrorist network of this experienced al-Shabab commander with extensive operational experience will disrupt near-term attack planning, potentially saving many innocent lives,” said Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook, adding that the Pentagon was still assessing the results of the strike.

This is while Somali government forces said Wednesday that they had killed the head of the intelligence unit in al-Shabab militant group during a cleanup operation in the troubled Horn of Africa country.

Abdifatah Omar, the spokesman for Mogadishu municipality, said that intelligence agents had killed the man, only identified by the first name Daud.

Omar did not provide any information when the operation was carried out.

Meanwhile American officials have also said that US forces gave support to an African-led operation in Somalia that targeted Mohamed Dulyadayn, the suspected mastermind of the Garissa University attack in Kenya in April 2015 which killed 148 people. Dulyadayn is also known as Kuno Gamadere.

They also said they could not yet confirm if Dulyadayn was killed.

The latest US airstrike comes two months after a similar drone attack in Somalia killed an al-Shabab leader, Hassan Ali Dhoore.

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

The US routinely provides support, including helicopter transportation at times, for troops from the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), which is the peacekeeping operation there.

Somalia has been the scene of militancy by al-Shabab since 2006. The Takfiri terrorist group has been pushed out of Mogadishu and other major cities by government forces and the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), which is largely made up of troops from Ethiopia, Uganda, Burundi, Djibouti, Sierra Leone and Kenya.

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