World Bulletin / News Desk
The U.S. Defense Department confirmed Friday that the leader of the al-Shabab militant groups was killed during a targeted airstrike in Somalia last weekend.
"(Ahmed) Godane’s removal is a major symbolic and operational loss to the largest al-Qaida affiliate in Africa and reflects years of painstaking work by our intelligence, military and law enforcement professionals," the White House said in a statement.
The Pentagon announced earlier this week that U.S. forces targeted a meeting of the group’s leaders in Lower Shebelle in Southern Somalia but at the time of the announcement, spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby could not confirm if Godane was killed in the operation.
According to the White House statement, Godane claimed responsibility for the four-day siege of the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, last September which killed at least 67 people and injured more than 175 others. Godane said the attack was “revenge” for Kenyan and Western involvement in Somalia and cited the attack’s proximity to the anniversary of the of Sept. 11, 2001, attack on the United States.
In May, al-Shabab claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing in a Djibouti restaurant that killed a Turkish national and wounded several Western soldiers as well as a car bomb at the Mogadishu airport in Somalia that targeted members of a United Nations convoy.
The group also claimed responsibility for the July 11, 2010, twin suicide bombings at a World Cup viewing venue in Kampala, Uganda, that killed more than 70 people, including one American.
In February 2012, al-Shabab and al-Qaida announced a formal alliance through a statement in which Godane swore allegiance to al-Qaida.
Shabaab leader death 'good step'
Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud on Friday described the killing earlier this week of Ahmed Abdi Godane, commander of the Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabaab group, as a "good step" on the path to peace.
Mohamud added that Godane's recent death signaled the collapse of "one of the pillars of the war against Somalia."
He went on to note that his government had had advance knowledge of the impending strike.
"Those who choose to stay with the movement [Al-Shabaab] know their fate," the president asserted.
He urged group members to renounce violence after the death of their leader, warning that his government would take similar measures against whoever succeeded the slain commander.
Somali Prime Minister Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed, for his part, said the killing of Godane had been carried out in "close" coordination with the U.S.Last Mod: 06 Eylül 2014, 09:53