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Washington (AFP) Oct 28, 2013
The US military carried out a drone strike targeting Al Shebab militants in Somalia on Monday, a senior administration official told AFP.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed media reports that American forces had carried out the aerial attack with unmanned robotic aircraft but did specify who in Shebab had been targeted.
"We share Somalia's concern about al-Shebab," the US official said.
In Somalia, witnesses recounted hearing aircraft overhead and a loud explosion, with missiles striking a car believed to be carrying senior leaders of Shebab in the country's south.
The air strike comes after a raid earlier this month by US Navy SEALs at the southern port of Barawe that failed to capture or kill the alleged target, a senior Shebab leader called Abdulkadir Mohamed Abdulkadir, also known as Ikrima.
The United States has access to a network of airfields in East Africa, flying Reaper drones out of a base in Djibouti and in southern Ethiopia.
In May, a US drone crashed south of Mogadishu.
Somalia strike hits 'Shebab' car: witnesses
"We are getting that a missile struck one of the Al-Shebab vehicles near Jilib," south of the capital Mogadishu, local resident Abdi Moalim told AFP by telephone.
"Some people who stayed near the area told us it was an aerial bombardment targeting a vehicle,"he said adding that the car was carrying "at least three" people.
Another resident who spoke on condition of anonymity said he heard an explosion and the sound of a plane overhead.
"We don't know who was killed but I can confirm that there was an attack, aircraft sounded over the sky and a few minutes later a heavy explosion followed. No one can dare go to check what happened, Al-Shebab will kill you," he said.
No one from Al-Shebab could immediately be reached for comment.
A raid by US Navy Seals on the southern port of Barawe in early October failed to hit its alleged target, a senior Shebab militant leader and Kenyan of Somali origin called Abdulkadir Mohamed Abdulkadir, also known as Ikrima.
That raid followed two weeks after an attack by Shebab gunmen on the upscale Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi that left 67 people dead during a four-day siege.
Kenya invaded southern Somalia to attack Shebab bases two years ago, and later joined the 17,700-strong African Union force deployed in the country.
The Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab warned Kenya after the Westgate assault that "rivers of blood" would flow if it does not pull its troops out of Somalia.
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