The U.S. military and the Somali government say an air-strike Sunday targeted and killed a senior member of the al-Shabab extremist group.
Somali intelligence officials who asked not to be named identified the target as Ali Mohamed Hussein, who served as al-Shabab's shadow governor for Mogadishu and has been one of the group’s most outspoken members.
Hussein, also known as Ali Jabal, was known for forcing Mogadishu businesses to donate money to the Islamist militants.
Somalia’s information minister, Abdurahman Omar Osman, told VOA Somali that President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed "approved an operation with international partners on 30 July near Tortoroow, killing a key al-Shabab leader behind Mogadishu bombings, assassinations."
Tortoroow is an al-Shabab stronghold in the Lower Shabelle region in southern Somalia.
A brief statement on the attack from the U.S. Africa Command said the air-strike took place late Saturday, eastern U.S. time. The statement added no civilians were killed.
The statement added the air-strike was conducted in coordination with regional partners “as a direct response to al-Shabab actions, including recent attacks on Somali forces.”
“The strike targeted two vehicles in which the militants were travelling in at Buula-Banin village near Tortoroow in the Lower Shabelle region,” said Hassan Husein Mohamed, the security minister of South West regional administration. “Missiles from foreign military planes struck the vehicles and we are still in the middle of confirming the result.”
President Donald Trump earlier this year approved expanded military operations against al-Shabab, including more aggressive air-strikes and considering parts of southern Somalia areas of active hostilities.
Meanwhile, the Somali president held an emergency meeting with the country’s heads of security agencies on Monday. Sources told VOA it focused on the latest security incidents in the country.
The meeting came a day after the militants carried out two deadly attacks in Somalia. In the first, militants ambushed a convoy carrying African Union troops in Lower Shabelle. At least 18 soldiers were killed, according to a senior Somali military officer.
In the second, a massive car bomb explosion killed at least 10 people and wounded 15 on a busy Mogadishu street.
Harun Maruf contributed to this report.