What you need to know:
- In July last year, the US donated eight hand-launched Raven drones to Kenya for surveillance
- A senior US military official confirmed to the media that a drone strike in southern Somalia killed two Al-Shabaab militants
A top Al-Shabaab commander who planned the Westgate terrorist attack was killed in a drone strike in Somalia, the military confirmed on Tuesday.
Kenya Defence Forces spokesman Cyrus Oguna said Abdulahi Ali alias Ante Ante, was killed alongside his personal assistant Abdi Fatah alias Ballah in southern Somalia, an area controlled by Kenyan troops serving under African Union Mission, Amisom.
Col Oguna said: “Ante Ante was very close to the overall Al-Shabaab commander Godane (Ahmed Abdi) and so he was involved in the actual planning of the Westgate attack.”He said the drone strike was carried by KDF with the help of allied forces.
“This was a KDF operation and of course there is always help when it comes to sharing information. This is a transnational war because the fight against terrorism is not a one- country affair.”
In July last year, the US donated eight hand-launched Raven drones to Kenya for surveillance and Col Oguna confirmed that KDF had also acquired others with assault capabilities.
“The UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) are ours and were used in the attack,” he said.
Col Oguna said Ante Ante was in charge of the explosives squad of the Amniat, Al-Shabaab’s intelligence wing.
He was also in charge of the suicide squad until August this year, when he was transferred.
Col Oguna said Amniat has three wings, each in charge of suicides, explosives and kidnapping.
Besides being an assistant, Mr Ballah who was also killed, was Ante Ante’s official driver.
KDF’s Major Emanuel Chirchir posted in his official twitter account: “Someone Tell Shabaab We will kick them like polio...”
A senior US military official also confirmed to the media that a drone strike in southern Somalia killed two Al-Shabaab militants including the group’s top explosives expert.
He did not identify the second victim of the attack.
A member of the Al-Qaeda linked terrorist group confirmed the killings and identified the explosives specialist as a man called Anta.
The two militants were killed as they rode in a car in Somalia’s Middle Juba region.
Witnesses in Somalia told Al-Jazeera TV that the strike occurred near the town of Jilib, about 100 kilometres north of Kismayo, the port town occupied by Kenyan troops serving as part of the Amisom contingent.
Reports from Jilib District, about 400 km south of Mogadishu, said an American drone struck a convoy of vehicles travelling along a road on Monday.
Somali government officials who are associated with the security sector indicated that a senior member of Al-Shabaab, the radical Islamist group, was killed.
“The assault killed an Al-Shabaab leader specialising in explosives and suicide missions,” said Mr Mohamed Farah al-Ansari, a former Al-Shabaab militant who deserted the extremist movement, while talking to the media.
Somali Interior Affairs minister Abdikarim Hussein Guled told Mogadishu Radio, a state-run broadcaster, on Monday that the dead jihadist was called Ibrahim Ali Abdi.
“Abdi who was better known as Anta-Anta and also as Abu Ali planned the activities of al-Istishaad (Al-Shabaab’s unit specialised in suicide missions),” added the minister.
Other reports indicated that Abdi was associated with multiple suicide attacks in Hargeisa, the capital of the self-declared Republic of Somaliland, in October 2008.
The attacks in Hargeisa, which killed 20 people, targeted the authority’s presidential palace, the United Nations Development Programme office and the Ethiopian consular.
Reported by Fred Mukinda, Abdulkadir Khalif and Kevin Kelly