Drone attack on 'emboldened' al-Qaeda group in Somalia

The United States conducted a drone attack in Somalia, apparently wounding two senior members of al-Shabaab, a militant Somalia group with ties to al-Qaeda, the Washington Post reported on Wednesday.

Citing a senior US military official, the newspaper said the drone strike last week targeted two al-Shabaab leaders who had “direct ties” to United States-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki who escaped a US drone attack in Yemen.

In a report late on Wednesday on its website, the Washington Post said US officials have “picked up intelligence” that al-Shabaab leaders intended to expand beyond Somalia.

“They have become somewhat emboldened of late, and, as a result, we have become more focused on inhibiting their activities,” the official said. “They were planning operations outside of Somalia.”

With this strike in Somalia, the United States has now used drones to attack in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Iraq and Yemen, the newspaper noted.

The White House declined to answer the Washington Post‘s questions about the attack.

Last Thursday residents reported huge explosions near Kismayo, a southern port town controlled by al-Shabaab, followed by the sound of aircraft.

An al-Shabaab official in the area said his men had reported an aerial bombing raid on a al-Shabaab base.

“The military aircraft of the enemy carried out an aerial bombardment on a base where some mujahedeen fighters were staying. Initial reports indicate several mujahedeen fighters including muhajirs [foreigners] died,” the official said, refusing to be named.

“We believe the aircraft belonged to the US,” he added.
- Reuters, AFP

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