Officials in southern Somalia say foreign troops staged a pre-dawn attack Saturday on an al-Shabab "safe house."
Sources told VOA Somali that a top al-Qaida militant working with al-Shabab was the target of the attack in Brava, 250 kilometers south of the capital, Mogadishu. Brava is under the control of al-Shabab.
An al-Shabab spokesman told the French news agency the operation "failed" when "the enemy of Allah tried to surprise the mujahadeen commanders."
Foreign militaries, including the U.S. and French, have carried out strikes inside Somalia in the past.
Brava residents say the militants have cordoned off the area.
The identity of the al-Qaida militant targeted was not immediately clear.
Witnesses say one rebel fighter died in the attack.
Al-Shabab, an al-Qaida-linked group, has claimed responsibility for an attack on a Kenyan shopping mall two weeks ago, killing scores of people. The militants have vowed to carry out other acts of violence against Kenya.
Al-Shabab demands that Kenyan forces withdraw from Somalia. Kenyan forces entered neighboring Somalia two years ago to help fight the militant group, which has been fighting to turn Somalia into a strict Islamic state.