Accessibility links

Breaking News

Shootings in Somalia's Capital Leave 7 Dead


FILE - Al-Shabab fighters are seen marching with their weapons during exercises on the outskirts of Mogadishu, Somalia, Feb. 17, 2011.

Seven people, including three intelligence security officers, died Saturday in three shootings in Mogadishu, according to witnesses in Somalia's capital.

The violence came a day after confirmation from a U.S. official that an airstrike had killed a senior member of the al-Shabab militant group.

Two of the shootings in Mogadishu involved masked or unidentified gunmen, with one attack killing two officers with Somalia's National Intelligence Agency. The third incident occurred when government security forces carrying out an operation opened fire on a crowd protesting their actions, killing three and wounding one.

The death of Al-Shabab assassin Hassan Ali Dhore occurred in an airstrike Thursday. The Somali government last year put him on a "most wanted" list of 12 people involved in terror attacks in Mogadishu.

Another suspected U.S. airstrike Friday was reported to have killed a commander known as "Qorilow," the head of al-Shabab forces in Jannaale town, and three other militants. A separate strike Saturday killed six militants in the Lower Juba region, according to local officials and residents.

'Significant' strike

U.S. Defense Department spokesman Peter Cook said the airstrike that killed Dhore was carried out in cooperation with Somali forces. He said Dhore had planned and led previous attacks that killed at least three U.S. citizens, and he was suspected of plotting further attacks against Americans in the East African country.

"While we are still assessing the results of this operation," Cook said, "removing Dhore from the battlefield would be a significant blow to al-Shabab's operational planning and [its] ability to conduct attacks against ... Somalia, its citizens, U.S. partners in the region and against Americans abroad."

Al-Shabab militants, who have staged attacks in Kenya as well as throughout Somalia, are considered to be closely linked to the al-Qaida terror network.

Awdhegle, Somalia
Awdhegle, Somalia

The deputy commander of Somalia's army, General Ali Bashe, told journalists that Somali commandos operating deep in al-Shabab-controlled territory had located and identified Dhore.

"This was a successful operation and it will continue,” the general said.

In an interview with VOA's Somali service, Bashe said Dhore was killed at Toratorow village in a battle with Somali forces using the help of U.S. military experts.

Unlike the U.S. official's report, the Somali general said it was not clear whether Dhore was killed by a drone or by gunfire. At least two other Somali militants were killed along with Dhore.

Dhore commanded al-Shabab's Amniyat security and intelligence group, which included a feared squad of assassins that targeted lawmakers and other officials in Mogadishu.

A U.S. defense official said the strike took place about 30 kilometers south of Jilib, southwest of the capital, Mogadishu. He said the U.S. military had been watching Dhore for a long time and the Somali government shared information that led to the attack.

Additional strikes

Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud said in a note on Twitter Thursday night that his country's army and allied forces were in the midst of a heavy attack against al-Shabab. The presidential tweet was unusual in that it disclosed an operation still underway.

A similar commando raid March 9 in Awdhegle town, 120 kilometers southwest of Mogadishu, was carried out jointly by U.S. and Somali special forces. Awdhegle is near the area where Dhore was hit on Thursday.

FILE - Somali policemen look at the wreckage of a car at the scene of an explosion following an attack in Somalia's capital Mogadishu, March 9, 2016.
FILE - Somali policemen look at the wreckage of a car at the scene of an explosion following an attack in Somalia's capital Mogadishu, March 9, 2016.

The Pentagon said Dhore played "a direct role" in a December 2014 attack on Mogadishu's airport that killed several members of the African Union peacekeeping force in Somalia (AMISOM) and one U.S. citizen.

"Dhore 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," the U.S. statement said.

VOA's Joshua Fatzick in Washington contributed to this report.