“We are assessing the results of the operation and will provide
additional information, when appropriate, as details become available.”
If a senior militant was killed in the strike, it would be the latest in a
series of setbacks for the militia since the death of its former leader
Ahmed Abdi Godane in another US attack in September.
On Saturday, officials said the Al-Qaeda-affiliated group’s intelligence chief
Zakariya Ismail Ahmed Hersi, the subject of a $3 million US bounty, had
surrendered to Somali government forces.
But despite recent setbacks, the Shebab, which is fighting to topple a weak
but internationally recognized government propped up by African Union
troops, has proved resilient.
On Thursday, its fighters launched a brazen attack on the AU force’s
heavily-fortified headquarters at Mogadishu’s airport, killing three
soldiers and a civilian contractor.
The AU force, deployed since 2007, counts some 22,000 troops and has pushed
the Shebab out of the capital, but the Islamists still hold large swathes of
territory in the south and center of the country.
Recent rebel attacks have targeted key government and security sites in an
apparent bid to discredit claims by the authorities and the African Union
that they are winning the war.
The United States has no permanently deployed ground force in Somalia but
supports the government and sometimes deploys air power or special forces
against targets linked to Al-Qaeda.