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UN Points to Progress in Battling Al-Shabab in Somalia

FILE - Suspected Al-Shabab militants captured during an attack on an African Union base are seen in Mogadishu, Somalia, Dec. 25, 2014.

The top U.N. envoy to Somalia says U.S. airstrikes and major ground offensives by pro-government forces have led to the liberation of nearly 20 Somali towns from al-Shabab militants and have brought the country closer to full federal control.

Special U.N. representative Nicholas Kay, speaking to VOA, cited "considerable success" in the 2014 push against the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab. He also noted political progress in ending the nearly nine-year uprising.

Kay's interview came as regional news outlets reported the January 1 killing of al-Shabab commander Ibrahim Filey near the southern town of Kurtun Waarey. U.N.-backed radio Bar-Kulan said three other militants were also killed in the confrontation with Somali forces, but the report did not provide details.

On Tuesday, Somali authorities said al-Shabab fighters killed six Somali soldiers in Baidoa, in an attack on a military checkpoint about 250 kilometers west of Mogadishu.

Separately, the Pentagon confirmed Wednesday that a U.S. airstrike killed al-Shabab security chief Tahil Abdishakur on December 29 near the town of Saakow.

A U.S. airstrike in September killed al-Shabab leader Ahmed Abdi Godane.

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