Somalia Says Al-Shabaab Intelligence Head Killed in U.S. Strike
A U.S. air-strike in southern Somalia killed the intelligence chief of the al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabaab Islamist militant Group three months after a similar attack eliminated the group’s leader, Somalia’s National Intelligence and Security Agency said.
Abdishakur Tahliil, was killed near Somalia’s southern town of Saakow, the agency said in a statement yesterday. Two other senior officials were also killed in the attack, NISA said, without Identifying them. Earlier, Pentagon spokesman Mark Wright said in an e-mailed statement the attack took place yesterday about 325 kilometers (202 miles) west of the capital, Mogadishu. He didn’t identify the target.
“A joint operation between the Somalia National Intelligence and Security Agency and the U.S.successfully carried out a surgical attack on Al-Shabaab’s intelligence chief in which he and two other senior officials of the terrorist group perished,” Nisa said.
The strike comes three months after manned U.S. aircraft and drones killed Ahmed Abdi Godane, the leader of the al-Qaeda-linked militant group that has waged an insurgency against Somalia’s government since 2006. The U.S. declared the militia a terrorist organization in 2008.
The attacks by the U.S. follow a series of military setbacks that al-Shabaab has suffered since African Union-backed Somali government troops pushed the militants to withdraw from the capital Mogadishu in August 2011. Since then, the army has forced the insurgents to relinquish control of about 70 percent of southern and central Somalia, according to the presidency.
Last week, Zakariya Ismail Hersi, a senior al-Shabaab commander wanted by the U.S., surrendered to the Somali authorities. The U.S. State Department in 2012 offered a $3 million reward for information leading to the capture of Hersi, describing him as head of the group’s intelligence.
While Xinhua reported that Somali security forces today handed over Hersi to the authorities in neighboring Kenya,, citing Adan Mohamed, a Somali security official, NISA said he is still in their hands.
To contact the reporter on this story: Mohamed Sheikh Nor in Mogadishu at [email protected]