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Reports: Airstrikes kill al-Shabab leaders

July 16, 2015

Commanders of the Somali militant group al-Shabab have been killed in airstrikes in the border region of Gedo, according to reports. Kenyan officials have said that another attack killed at least 30 militants in Kenya.

al-Shabaab Kämpfer in Somalia
Image: picture alliance / AP Photo

Airstrikes have killed at least two commanders of the al-Qaeda affiliated militant group al-Shabab near Somalia's Bardhere town, according to media reports.

"The initial information we have indicates that senior al-Shabab members named Jama Dhere and Ismail Jamhad were killed," a senior intelligence officer in Mogadishu told DPA news agency on the condition of anonymity.

The intelligence officer noted that an airstrike struck a vehicle carrying the commanders, a statement supported by local elders.

Immediately following the attack, the mobile phone network in the area was cut off.

However, it was unclear if the airstrike was conducted by a drone or where the aircraft originated from.

"We have international partners who are helping us," he said, declining to reveal further details of the attack.

US drone strikes have targeted al-Shabab commanders before, most notably in 2014 when militant leader Ahmed Godane was killed in such an attack.

Conflicting reports on Kenyan front

Meanwhile, another attack reportedly left at least 30 al-Shabab militants dead in Kenya's northeastern region of Mandera.

According to Kenya's Ministry of Defense, 51 militants were killed during "artillery bombardment" by African Union (AU) forces.

"Fifty-one al-Shabab militants were killed including several middle-level commanders who have been responsible for attacks in the Mandera region," said a statement from the defense ministry.

However, Kenya's interior ministry said the number was at least 30 militants and included "several masterminds" of attacks, according to AFP news agency.

"Over 30 were killed, among them most wanted terrorists," Kenya's interior ministry spokesperson Mwenda Njoka said.

The spokesperson contradicted the defense ministry's statement by stating that a US drone was behind the attack in the Mandera region.

"It was a US drone. Kenyan forces usually provide ground support information and intelligence on such strikes," Njoka said.

The conflict in Somalia has spilled into Kenya in recent years. In April, the militant group launched a raid on a Kenyan university in the town of Garissa, killing almost 150 people, nearly all students.

ls/jil (AFP, dpa)