Mogadishu: African Union troops in Somalia said Friday they had killed two "senior" commanders of the Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab insurgents, in the latest push of an offensive against the extremist fighters.
Witnesses reported that fighter jets also pounded the town of Jilib in southern Somalia`s Middle Juba region on Thursday, part of the offensive by the 22,000-strong UN-backed AU mission in Somalia (AMISOM), who launched in March a fresh bid to wrest remaining towns from the Islamists.
AMISOM confirmed they had attacked an insurgent base near Jilib on Thursday, "destroying an Al-Shebab logistical base" and wounding "several militants."
The force, which fights alongside Somali government troops, boasted of capturing "a strategic militant training and planning camp in the village of Khadija Haji in Gedo region" in the far southwest, close to the border with Kenya.
AMISOM, in a statement Friday, also claimed to have killed "two senior Al-Shebab commanders", including one named as Issa Mohamed Dhoore, who had been reportedly a "liason officer" between foreign and Somali fighters.
Dhoore was said to have been close to secretive Shebab chief Ahmed Abdi Godane, who the US State Department lists as one of the world`s top eight terror fugitives, placing a $7 million bounty on his head.
The other Shebab fighter killed was named as Sharif Ameey, reportedly another "top leader", AMISOM said. Both were killed in a fighting in the village of Inimeey in Hiran region, some 200 kilometres (125 miles) north of the capital Mogadishu.
There was no immediate confirmation from the Shebab.
Despite the AU offensive, the Shehab continue to launch attacks even in the heart of fortified government zones in Mogadishu, as well as threatening regional nations such as Kenya and Uganda, who contribute troops to the AMISOM.
Earlier this month the Shebab launched an assault on Somalia`s presidential palace, a repeat of an attack made in February. They have also killed four lawmakers this year.