Washington: A drone strike in Somalia last week killed a senior al-Shebab figure linked to the notorious 2013 attack on the Westgate mall in Nairobi, the US military said Wednesday.
The US drone raid on March 12 struck a vehicle carrying Adan Garar, who was "a key operative responsible for coordinating al-Shebab`s external operations" and was "connected" to the Westgate massacre, the Pentagon said in a statement.
The strike was carried out in the vicinity of Diinsoor in Somalia and "resulted in the death of Garar."
Kenyan officials had told media shortly after the strike that Garar had been taken out, but the Pentagon was not ready to publicly confirm his death until now.
Garar was overseeing operations that "target US persons and other Western interests in order to further Al-Qaeda`s goals and objectives" and posed a "major threat to the region and the international community," the Pentagon said.
"His death has dealt another significant blow to the Shebab terrorist organization in Somalia."
The militant group has suffered a string of setbacks, losing territory in battles with regional forces and top leaders to drone missile strikes.
The United States took out another Shebab figure in a drone strike on January 31.
A Hellfire missile fired by an unmanned aircraft killed Yusuf Dheeq, who the Pentagon said was chief of intelligence and external operations for the Al-Qaeda-linked group.
But the Shebab rebels continue to stage frequent attacks as part of their fight to overthrow Somalia`s government, which is backed by forces from Kenya and other regional states.