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Air strike killed al-Shabab commander in Somalia, says US

The US military has confirmed it killed a high-level commander of the al-Shabab extremist group with an air strike in Somalia over the weekend.

The strike on July 30 killed Ali Mohamed Hussein, also known as Ali Jabal, the US Africa Command said in a statement.

The statement said he "was responsible for leading al-Shabab forces operating in the Mogadishu and Banadiir regions in planning and executing attacks against the capital of Mogadishu".

The air strike occurred near Tortoroow, an al-Shabab stronghold in the Lower Shabelle region in southern Somalia, the statement added.

US President Donald Trump earlier this year approved expanded military operations against al-Shabab, including more aggressive air strikes and considering parts of southern Somalia areas of active hostilities.

Al Qaida-linked al-Shabab is the deadliest Islamic extremist group in Africa.

Ali has also served as the extremist group's shadow governor for Mogadishu and had been one of al-Shabab's most outspoken officials.

The statement said the air strike came "as a direct response to al-Shabab actions, including recent attacks on Somali forces".

It said no civilians were killed in the strike.

The US Africa Command has told the Associated Press it was a drone strike.

Al-Shabab often carries out deadly attacks on high-profile targets in Mogadishu, including Somali military and African Union checkpoints and facilities, hotels and the area around the presidential palace.

The killing of Ali "disrupts al-Shabab's ability to plan and conduct attacks in Mogadishu and co-ordinate efforts between Al-Shabab regional commanders", the statement said.

The US has carried out a handful of air strikes since Mr Trump's expansion of military efforts.

The US military in early July said it carried out an air strike against al-Shabab in Somalia and was assessing the results, with few details.

The air strike followed one in June that the US said killed eight extremists at a rebel command and logistics camp in the south.

Somalia-based al-Shabab recently mocked Mr Trump in a video that called him a "brainless billionaire".

The extremist group has also vowed to step up attacks in Somalia after the president elected in February declared a new offensive against al-Shabab.

The extremist group has also carried out deadly attacks in neighbouring countries, notably Kenya, calling it retribution for sending troops to Somalia to fight against it.

AP

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