WASHINGTON (AP) — A U.S. drone strike in Somalia has targeted a key leader of the al-Shabab militant group who was involved in two attacks in Mogadishu more than a year ago that killed more than 30 people, at least three Americans among them, the Pentagon said Friday. Several U.S. officials said he and two others were killed.
Hassan Ali Dhoore was targeted in the airstrike Thursday, but the U.S. military was still assessing the results, Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said in a statement. Other U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to discuss the operation, said it occurred about 20 miles south of Jilib in southern Somalia not far from the Kenya border, killing Dhoore and two others.
Cook said Dhoore helped facilitate a deadly Christmas Day 2014 attack at Mogadishu International Airport and a March 2015 attack at the Maka al-Mukarramah Hotel. U.S. citizens were among those killed in the two attacks, he said.
One senior official also said that Dhoore was believed to be involved in plotting more attacks that would have targeted U.S. citizens.
Cook said Dhoore, who was also a member of al-Qaida, worked for al-Shabab's security and intelligence wing.
Killing Dhoore "would be a significant blow to al-Shabab's operational planning and ability to conduct attacks."
In the Christmas 2014 assault, gunmen attacked the African Union's main base leading to an exchange of gunfire between militants and soldiers that killed at least nine people, including three soldiers.
Three months later, gunmen from the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab rebel group launched an attack in the reception area of the hotel in the Somali capital, killing at least 24, including six attackers.