A senior al-Shabaab militant was killed in southern Somalia, a Somali government official said on Tuesday.
Interior Minister Abdikarin Hussein Guled told government radio that the Somali intelligence services have been tracking Ibrahim Ali Abdi, also known as Anta-Anta, for some time, according to Agence France-Presse.
The minister did not say who carried out the attack, but an official in Washington said the U.S. military carried out a drone strike targeting al-Shabaab in Somalia on Monday.
“The operation in which this man has been killed was very important for the government. This man had a major role in the death of many innocent civilians and his death will help in bringing back peace,” the minister told Radio Mogadishu, according to AFP.
The U.S. official did not specify where the drone was launched, but the U.S. army operates the devices from bases in Dijbouti and Arba Minch in southern Ethiopia.
The strike comes weeks after U.S. Navy SEALs carried out a raid on a Somali town but failed to capture or kill a senior commander of al-Shabaab movement and Kenyan of Somali origin called Abdulkadir Mohamed Abdulkadir, also known as Ikrima.
The Somali militant group has claimed a recent deadly attack on a shopping mall in Kenya that killed at least 67 people.
Witnesses said a vehicle belonging to the al-Qaeda linked militants with “at least three” people, including senior members of the Islamist group, was destroyed on Monday and reported causalities, according to AFP.
“We are getting that a missile struck one of the Shebab vehicles near Jilib,” south of the capital Mogadishu, local resident Abdi Moalim told AFP by telephone.
“Some people who stayed near the area told us it was an aerial bombardment targeting a vehicle,” he said, adding that the vehicle was carrying “at least three” people.
The al-Shabaab movement has been driven out of Somalia’s major towns, including the capital Mogadishu and the key southern port of Kismayo, by a U.N.-mandated African Union force that now numbers 17,700 men.
However, the group still controls large swathes of southern Somalia and has over the past few months stepped up the scale of its suicide attacks.