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Somalia on high alert after al-Shabaab leader killed

Al-Qaeda linked rebels thought to be planning retaliatory attacks after leader confirmed dead

Published: Updated:

Somalia's government warned Saturday that the country's al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabaab rebels were planning a wave of retaliatory attacks after it was confirmed their leader was killed earlier this week in a US air strike.

"Security agencies have obtained information indicating that al-Shabaab is now planning to carry out desperate attacks against medical facilities, education centers and other government facilities," National Security Minister Kalif Ahmed Ereg told reporters.

"The security forces are ready to counter their attacks and we call on people to help the security forces in standing against violent acts," he said, adding nevertheless that "we congratulate the Somali people" on the death of Ahmed Abdi Godane.

On Friday the Pentagon confirmed that Godane, the leader of al-Qaeda's main affiliate in Africa, perished in an attack on Monday in which US drones and manned aircraft rained Hellfire missiles and laser-guided bombs on a gathering of al-Shabaab commanders.

Godane had been fighting to overthrow the war-torn country's internationally-backed government, carrying out a wave of bombings and assassinations.

Godane, 37, who reportedly trained in Afghanistan with the Taliban, had overseen the group's transformation from local insurgency to major regional guerrilla threat, carrying out attacks in countries that contribute to the African Union force fighting in Somalia.

He claimed responsibility for the July 2010 bombings in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, that killed 74 people, and was also believed to have masterminded the September 2013 massacre in the Kenyan capital's Westgate Mall, a four-day seige in which at least 67 people were killed.