, WASHINGTON, Sept 5 – The United States confirmed Friday that the leader of Shebab militants in Somalia was killed in a US air strike this week, in what the White House called a major blow to Al-Qaeda’s network.
The death of Ahmed Abdi Godane is “a major symbolic and operational loss to the largest Al-Qaeda affiliate in Africa and reflects years of painstaking work by our intelligence, military and law enforcement professionals,” the White House said in a statement.
“We have confirmed that Ahmed Godane, the co-founder of al-Shabaab, has been killed” in an air raid carried out on Monday, Pentagon press secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby said.
Monday’s attack was launched at 1520 GMT on Monday, with both drones and manned aircraft bombing a gathering of Shebab commanders, using Hellfire missiles and laser-guided bombs, Kirby had told reporters earlier this week.
The State Department has listed Godane as one of the world’s eight top terror fugitives and analysts say his death would marks a serious setback for the Shebab forces.
Last October, US special operations forces launched an attack on a house in Barawe against another top Shebab commander but were forced to withdraw without killing their target.
Although the strike was “an important step forward” in the campaign against Shebab extremists, the United States “will continue to use the tools at our disposal — financial, diplomatic, intelligence and military — to address the threat that al-Shabaab and other terrorist groups pose to the United States and the American people,” the White House said.
“We will also continue to support our international partners, particularly the African Union Mission in Somalia, that are working to support the federal government of Somalia build a secure and stable future for the Somali people,” it said.
Shebab militants are fighting to overthrow the Somali government, regularly launching attacks against state targets and in neighboring countries that contribute to the African Union force there.