U.S. Drone Killed Al-Shabaab Explosives Expert, Somalia Says

In 2011, newly trained al-Shabab fighters perform military exercises in an area south of Mogadishu, in Somalia. The Islamic State is now trying to lure away members of the Somali group. (Farah Abdi Warsameh/AP)

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Somalia’s intelligence service said a senior leader and bomb-making expert from the al-Qaeda linked militia al-Shabaab was killed in a U.S. drone strike.

Abdi Nur Mahdi, also known as Yusuf Dheeg, died along with other members of the Islamist group in a strike at the weekend near the southern town of Diinsoor, the National Intelligence and Security Agency said in a statement on Wednesday.

Somalia is getting help from the U.S. and African Union in its fight against the Islamist insurgents. The Horn of Africa country has been devastated by two decades of conflict, and hasn’t had a functioning central administration since 1991. Kenya and Ethiopia are among the African countries to send troops into Somalia to fight al-Shabaab.

The multinational effort has succeeded in pushing the jihadist group out of many of the main towns it once controlled.

The Somali intelligence service said that Mahdi was an expert in “making and planting explosive munitions” and played a key role in “deadly attacks in neighboring countries.”

U.S. strikes in recent months have killed al-Shabaab leader Ahmed Abdi Godane and intelligence chief Abdishakur Tahliil. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters on Tuesday that the impact of the Jan. 31 airstrike was still under review.

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