A drone strike has targeted a jihadist commander suspected of involvement in two terror attacks in Somalia.
US officials believe Hassan Ali Dhoore was killed alongside two other people after being targeted on Thursday but the results of the operation are still being formally assessed.
Peter Cook, the Pentagon press secretary, said the strike was carried out in co-operation with the Somali government as it continues to fight an Islamist insurgency by al-Shabaab, with is affiliated with al-Qaeda.
“Removing Dhoore from the battlefield would be a significant blow to al-Shabaab's operational planning and ability to conduct attacks against the government of the Federal Republic of Somalia, its citizens, US partners in the region and against Americans abroad,” he added.
“In addition to being part of al-Qaeda, Hassan Ali Dhoore was a member of al-Shabaab's Amniyat (security and intelligence) wing and was heavily involved in high profile attack planning in Mogadishu.”
He is said to have planned and overseen atrocities that killed more than 30 people, including an attack near Mogadishu Airport saw one American killed alongside peacekeeping forces as they celebrated on Christmas Day.
The Pentagon said Dhoore was also “directly responsible” for a massacre at the Maka al-Mukarram Hotel in March 2015, where 15 people died.
He was believed to be planning further attacks targeting Americans living in the Somali capital.
The strike came weeks after the US targeted an al-Shabaab training camp in an air strike that killed more than 150 fighters, according to officials.
That operation, using both fighter jets and unmanned Reaper drones, targeted al Shabaab's "Raso" facility, about 120 miles north of the capital.
Al-Shabaab was pushed out of Mogadishu by African Union peacekeeping forces in 2011 but has continued its insurgency against the “enemies of Islam” in Somalia, launching frequent attacks in its bid to overthrow the Western-backed government.
The group, whose name means "The Youth," seeks to impose its strict version of Sharia law in the country, where it routinely targets security and government forces, as well as hotels and restaurants frequented by foreigners.
It has also orchestrated deadly attacks in Kenya and Uganda, which both contribute troops to the coalition fighting its militants.
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