Washington: A US drone strike has targeted a senior Shebab leader in Somalia who was believed to have been plotting attacks against Americans in Mogadishu, the Pentagon has announced.
"In cooperation with the federal government of Somalia, on Thursday, March 31, the US military conducted an air strike in Somalia against Hassan Ali Dhoore, a senior leader of al-Shebab," Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook said in a statement yesterday.
A US defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the drone strike targeted a vehicle Dhoore was riding in with two other Al-Qaeda-aligned Shebab members.
"We have been watching him off and on for a long time," the official said.
"The Somali government was involved in sharing information that led to this attack."
The Pentagon said it was still assessing whether Dhoore had been killed.
Dhoore allegedly was part of Shebab's security and intelligence wing, and had been involved in planning attacks in Mogadishu, the Pentagon said.
"He had planned and overseen attacks resulting in the death of at least three US citizens," Cook said, noting that Dhoore had played a role in the December 2014 attack on Mogadishu's airport that resulted in the death of several African Union soldiers and a US citizen.
"Dhoore was also directly responsible for the March 27, 2015 attack on the Maka al-Mukarram Hotel in Mogadishu, resulting in the deaths of 15 people, including one Somali-American national. Hassan was believed to have been plotting attacks targeting US citizens in Mogadishu," Cook added.
The military action follows a massive US air strike last month on a Shebab training camp that killed more than 150 fighters the Pentagon said were prepping for a "large-scale" attack.
Shebab jihadists have claimed responsibility for a string of recent attacks including a twin bombing at a busy restaurant in the Somali city of Baidoa in February.