US Navy Seal team fails in attempt to kill al-Shabaab leader in Somalia raid following Nairobi mall attack

Update: Despite reports last night from US officials that the target had died during heavy gunfire, it has now been confirmed that he survived the attack

US special forces have failed in an attempt to kill a senior leader of al-Shabaab, the Somali Islamist group, in response to the deadly attack on a Nairobi shopping mall two weeks ago.

A US Navy Seal team attacked the leader, named by a Somali intelligence official as Mukhtar Abu Zubeyr, at his seaside villa in the Somali town of Baraawe, south of the capital Mogadishu, in a pre-dawn, sea-launched attack yesterday.

US forces said last night that they were forced to withdraw before they could confirm the target was dead, after fighting broke out, and it has now emerged that Zubeyr survived.

Such operations by American forces are rare because they carry a high risk, and indicate the target was considered a high priority, The New York Times reported last night. “The Baraawe raid was planned a week and a half ago,” an American security official told the newspaper. “It was prompted by the Westgate attack,” he added, referring to the Nairobi mall that was overrun by militants, leaving more than 60 dead.

Baraawe is known as a gathering place for al-Shabaab's foreign fighters. Witnesses described a firefight lasting over an hour with helicopters for air support.

A senior Somali government official who spoke on condition of anonymity confirmed the raid, saying: “The attack was carried out by the American forces and the Somali government was pre-informed about the attack.”

US officials said that its troops made the decision to fall back after civilian casualties became an increasing concern.

Seven people were confirmed killed – but there were no US deaths, and a spokesman for al-Shabaab said just one of its fighters had died in gunfire.

The group boasted that it had successfully beaten back the assault, and released images of US equipment which had been left behind in the retreat.

The attack came just hours before a similar raid in Libya against the al-Qa’ida leader Anas al-Libi, which had a very different result. Meeting with no armed resistance after they surprised al-Libi at his home, a convoy of three US military vehicles was able to capture the computer specialist alive.

The US Secretary of State John Kerry said that the two operations against militants in north Africa sends the message that terrorists “can run but they can't hide”.

Meanwhile, a Kenyan military spokesman said yesterday it had identified four of the Westgate shopping mall attackers from surveillance footage.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Marketing Manager / Marketing Communications Manager

£35-40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Communicati...

Recruitment Genius: Commercial Engineer

£30000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Estimating, preparation of tech...

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Technician

£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will work as part of a smal...

Recruitment Genius: Media Sales Executive - OTE £37,000

£16000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The ideal candidate will want t...

Day In a Page

Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor
The ZX Spectrum has been crowd-funded back into play - with some 21st-century tweaks

The ZX Spectrum is back

The ZX Spectrum was the original - and for some players, still the best. David Crookes meets the fans who've kept the games' flames lit
Grace of Monaco film panned: even the screenwriter pours scorn on biopic starring Nicole Kidman

Even the screenwriter pours scorn on Grace of Monaco biopic

The critics had a field day after last year's premiere, but the savaging goes on
Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people used to believe about periods

Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people once had about periods

If one was missed, vomiting blood was seen as a viable alternative
The best work perks: From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)

The quirks of work perks

From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)
Is bridge the latest twee pastime to get hip?

Is bridge becoming hip?

The number of young players has trebled in the past year. Gillian Orr discovers if this old game has new tricks
Long author-lists on research papers are threatening the academic work system

The rise of 'hyperauthorship'

Now that academic papers are written by thousands (yes, thousands) of contributors, it's getting hard to tell workers from shirkers
The rise of Lego Clubs: How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships

The rise of Lego Clubs

How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships
5 best running glasses

On your marks: 5 best running glasses

Whether you’re pounding pavements, parks or hill passes, keep your eyes protected in all weathers
Joe Root: 'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

Joe Root says the England dressing room is a happy place again – and Stokes is the catalyst
Raif Badawi: Wife pleads for fresh EU help as Saudi blogger's health worsens

Please save my husband

As the health of blogger Raif Badawi worsens in prison, his wife urges EU governments to put pressure on the Saudi Arabian royal family to allow her husband to join his family in Canada