US military attacks al-Shabaab in Somalia

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US military attacks al-Shabaab in Somalia
Somalia federal government soldiers conduct random check of public transport vehicles during a patrol on the streets of Mogadishu on February 18, 2015, as part of an operation against Al-Shebab insurgents. Al-Qaeda-affiliated Shebab rebels are fighting to overthrow the country's internationally-backed government. AFP PHOTO/Mohamed ABDIWAHAB (Photo credit should read Mohamed Abdiwahab/AFP/Getty Images)
Suspected Al-Shebab members are arrested by Somali security forces in Mogadishu on February 18, 2015, during an operation against Al-Shebab insurgents. Al-Qaeda-affiliated Shebab rebels are fighting to overthrow the country's internationally-backed government. AFP PHOTO/Mohamed ABDIWAHAB (Photo credit should read Mohamed Abdiwahab/AFP/Getty Images)
Somali men watch on September 6, 2014 in Mogadishu news on a television channel, broadcasting a portrait of Somalia's Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab slain leader Ahmed Abdi Godane, recently killed in a US air strike. Somalia's Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab militants on September 6 announced the appointment of Godane's successor naming Ahmad Umar Abu Ubaidah, described by Shebab sources as a close lieutenant to Godane -- although the name is seen as likely to be a pseudonym. The group also vowed to avenge the death of Godane and said they would continue their fight to topple the country's internationally-backed government. AFP PHOTO / MOHAMED ABDIWAHAB (Photo credit should read Mohamed Abdiwahab/AFP/Getty Images)
Somali men watch the news on September 6, 2014 in Mogadishu on a television set where is broadcasted a portrait of Somalia's Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab slain leader Ahmed Abdi Godane, recently killed in a US air strike. Somalia's Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab militants on September 6 announced the appointment of Godane's successor naming Ahmad Umar Abu Ubaidah, described by Shebab sources as a close lieutenant to Godane -- although the name is seen as likely to be a pseudonym. The group also vowed to avenge the death of Godane and said they would continue their fight to topple the country's internationally-backed government. AFP PHOTO / MOHAMED ABDIWAHAB (Photo credit should read Mohamed Abdiwahab/AFP/Getty Images)
Soldiers of the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) secure an area near the Godka Jillicow prison in Mogadishu on August 31, 2014. Somali security forces said on August 31 they had killed at least four Shebab militants, ending a coordinated car bomb and gun attack against the national intelligence headquarters and a detention facility in the capital Mogadishu. AFP PHOTO / ABDIFITAH HASHI NOR (Photo credit should read ABDIFITAH HASHI NOR/AFP/Getty Images)
Soldiers of the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) secure an area near the Godka Jillicow prison in Mogadishu on August 31, 2014. Somali security forces said on August 31 they had killed at least four Shebab militants, ending a coordinated car bomb and gun attack against the national intelligence headquarters and a detention facility in the capital Mogadishu. AFP PHOTO / ABDIFITAH HASHI NOR (Photo credit should read ABDIFITAH HASHI NOR/AFP/Getty Images)
Military officers stand near the site of a major car bomb and gun attack against an intelligence headquarters and detention facility in the center of Mogadishu, which police said left at least seven militants dead, on August 31, 2014. Police and witnesses said a car bomb was detonated outside the National Intelligence Center and was followed by a raid by gunmen disguised in national army uniforms -- a style of attack bearing all the hallmarks of the Al-Qaeda-linked Islamist Shebab militia. The assault came a day after Somalia's national army and African Union forces said they had captured a Shebab stronghold as part of a joint offensive aimed at capturing key ports from the Islamist fighters and cutting off a key source of revenue for the rebels. AFP PHOTO / Mohamed Abdiwahab (Photo credit should read Mohamed Abdiwahab/AFP/Getty Images)
The site of a major car bomb and gun attack against an intelligence headquarters and detention facility in the center of Mogadishu, which police said left at least seven militants dead on August 31, 2014. Police and witnesses said a car bomb was detonated outside the National Intelligence Center and was followed by a raid by gunmen disguised in national army uniforms -- a style of attack bearing all the hallmarks of the Al-Qaeda-linked Islamist Shebab militia. The assault came a day after Somalia's national army and African Union forces said they had captured a Shebab stronghold as part of a joint offensive aimed at capturing key ports from the Islamist fighters and cutting off a key source of revenue for the rebels. AFP PHOTO / Abdifitah Hashi Nor (Photo credit should read ABDIFITAH HASHI NOR/AFP/Getty Images)
The site of a major car bomb and gun attack against an intelligence headquarters and detention facility in the center of Mogadishu, which police said left at least seven militants dead on August 31, 2014. Police and witnesses said a car bomb was detonated outside the National Intelligence Center and was followed by a raid by gunmen disguised in national army uniforms -- a style of attack bearing all the hallmarks of the Al-Qaeda-linked Islamist Shebab militia. The assault came a day after Somalia's national army and African Union forces said they had captured a Shebab stronghold as part of a joint offensive aimed at capturing key ports from the Islamist fighters and cutting off a key source of revenue for the rebels. AFP PHOTO / Mohamed Abdiwahab (Photo credit should read Mohamed Abdiwahab/AFP/Getty Images)
People stand at the site of a major car bomb and gun attack against an intelligence headquarters and detention facility in the center of Mogadishu, which police said left at least seven militants dead on August 31, 2014. Police and witnesses said a car bomb was detonated outside the National Intelligence Center and was followed by a raid by gunmen disguised in national army uniforms -- a style of attack bearing all the hallmarks of the Al-Qaeda-linked Islamist Shebab militia. The assault came a day after Somalia's national army and African Union forces said they had captured a Shebab stronghold as part of a joint offensive aimed at capturing key ports from the Islamist fighters and cutting off a key source of revenue for the rebels. AFP PHOTO / Mohamed Abdiwahab (Photo credit should read Mohamed Abdiwahab/AFP/Getty Images)
Somali soldiers patrol in Wadajir district South of capital following heavy fighting as Somali government and African Union troops battled a powerful militia warlord in a bid to disarm him, on August 15, 2014 in Mogadishu. Somalia's government launched a disarmament campaign earlier this month, with troops backed by the AU mission in Somalia (AMISOM) today fighting to seize weapons from militia leader Ahmed Dai. AFP PHOTO/MOHAMED ABDIWAHAB (Photo credit should read Mohamed Abdiwahab/AFP/Getty Images)
Somali soldiers patrol in Wadajir district South of capital following heavy fighting as Somali government and African Union troops battled a powerful militia warlord in a bid to disarm him, on August 15, 2014 in Mogadishu. Somalia's government launched a disarmament campaign earlier this month, with troops backed by the AU mission in Somalia (AMISOM) today fighting to seize weapons from militia leader Ahmed Dai. AFP PHOTO/MOHAMED ABDIWAHAB (Photo credit should read Mohamed Abdiwahab/AFP/Getty Images)
Somali soldiers patrol in Wadajir district South of capital following heavy fighting as Somali government and African Union troops battled a powerful militia warlord in a bid to disarm him, on August 15, 2014 in Mogadishu. Somalia's government launched a disarmament campaign earlier this month, with troops backed by the AU mission in Somalia (AMISOM) today fighting to seize weapons from militia leader Ahmed Dai. AFP PHOTO/MOHAMED ABDIWAHAB (Photo credit should read Mohamed Abdiwahab/AFP/Getty Images)
Soldiers of the African Union's AMISOM check weapons and ammunition seized after heavy fighting early on August 15, 2014 at the Halane military base in Mogadishu as African Union troops backed government forces in the battle to seize weapons from a local militia. Bursts of gunfire and heavy explosions were reported before dawn with rocket-propelled grenades fired by both sides, with witnesses reporting at least five dead. AFP PHOTO/ABDULFITAH HASHI NOR (Photo credit should read ABDULFITAH HASHI NOR/AFP/Getty Images)
Sheikh Muhammad Khalifa (C) Chairman of the Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya (CIPK) addresses a press conference with others Muslim leaders on June 17, 2014 in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi following the massacre of over 60 people along the Kenyan coast in attacks claimed by the Somalia-based Shabab islamists. Kenya's top Muslim leaders warned Tuesday that Islamist attacks and a harsh government response risked dividing the country along ethnic and religious lines that could trigger a repeat of the deadly post-election violence six years ago even as al-Shabab claimed a new attack in which 15 people have been killed just 24 hours after Somalia's Shebab rebels massacred close to 50 people in the same area. AFP PHOTO/Tony KARUMBA (Photo credit should read TONY KARUMBA/AFP/Getty Images)
An injured man is carried on a stretcher to Madina hospital after heavy fighting as Somali government and African Union troops battled a powerful militia warlord in a bid to disarm him, on August 15, 2014 in Mogadishu. Somalia's government launched a disarmament campaign earlier this month, with troops backed by the AU mission in Somalia (AMISOM) today fighting to seize weapons from militia leader Ahmed Dai. AFP PHOTO/Abdulfitah Hashi Nor (Photo credit should read ABDULFITAH HASHI NOR/AFP/Getty Images)
A Somalia carries the body of his child, whose death was caused by heavy fighting as Somali government and African Union troops battled a powerful militia warlord in a bid to disarm him, on August 15, 2014 in Mogadishu. Somalia's government launched a disarmament campaign earlier this month, with troops backed by the AU mission in Somalia (AMISOM) today fighting to seize weapons from militia leader Ahmed Dai. AFP PHOTO/Abdulfitah Hashi Nor (Photo credit should read ABDULFITAH HASHI NOR/AFP/Getty Images)
An injured man is escorted to Madina hospital after heavy fighting as Somali government and African Union troops battled a powerful militia warlord in a bid to disarm him, on August 15, 2014 in Mogadishu. Somalia's government launched a disarmament campaign earlier this month, with troops backed by the AU mission in Somalia (AMISOM) today fighting to seize weapons from militia leader Ahmed Dai. AFP PHOTO/Abdulfitah Hashi Nor (Photo credit should read ABDULFITAH HASHI NOR/AFP/Getty Images)
Students hold placards and gesture on August 13, 2014 in the Somalian capital Mogadishu, during a demonstration to protest Israel's military operation in Gaza. Egyptian mediators scrambled on August 13 to secure agreement from both sides to extend a three-day lull expiring at midnight, as five weeks of bloody fighting has killed more than 1,950 Palestinians, 64 Israeli soldiers and three civilians in Israel. AFP PHOTO/Mohamed ABDIWAHAB (Photo credit should read Mohamed Abdiwahab/AFP/Getty Images)
Three suspected Shebab Islamic militants are tied to large wooden stakes before being executed by a firing squad on August 3, 2014 in Mogadishu. The three men were condemned to death for murder, police chief Abdi Mohamed told AFP, with one of the men allegedly taking part in an assault on the presidential palace last month. The executions come three days after another Somali MP was assassinated by Shebab guerrillas in the capital, the fifth this year, as the militants step up their attacks in Mogadishu to counter claims that their insurgency is waning. AFP PHOTO / MOHAMED ABDIWAHAB (Photo credit should read Mohamed Abdiwahab/AFP/Getty Images)
A member of the Somali security forces looks at blood stains on the ground following a bomb blast in Mogadishu on August 3, 2014. At least three city workers, all women, were killed when a bomb hidden in a rubbish pit exploded in the Somali capital while they were cleaning the streets. AFP PHOTO/ABDIFITAH HASHI NOR (Photo credit should read ABDIFITAH HASHI NOR/AFP/Getty Images)
Somali security forces patrol following a bomb blast in Mogadishu on August 3, 2014. At least three city workers, all women, were killed when a bomb hidden in a rubbish pit exploded in the Somali capital while they were cleaning the streets. AFP PHOTO/ABDIFITAH HASHI NOR (Photo credit should read ABDIFITAH HASHI NOR/AFP/Getty Images)
(From L) Omar Liban Abdulle, Mohamed Abdi Ahmed, Hussein Hassan Mustafa and Adan Mohamed Ibrahim, appear in court on August 5, 2014, in Nairobi, charged in connection with the Westgate mall massacre in September 2013.The trial of the four men accused of helping the gunmen behind Kenya's Westgate mall massacre in September 2013 in which at least 67 people were killed, resumed on August 5 in the capital nairobi. AFP PHOTO / SIMON MAINA (Photo credit should read SIMON MAINA/AFP/Getty Images)
MOGADISHU, SOMALIA - JULY 5: A car bomb attack, staged near parliament building, kills 4 people and injures 3 others in Mogadishu, Somalia on July 5, 2014. (Photo by Ismael Abdallah/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Eritreans and Somalian refugees receive clothes donated by the religious community of Lampedusa to migrants on February 18, 2015. Authorities on the Italian island of Lampedusa struggled to cope with a huge influx of newly-arrived migrants as aid organisations warned the Libya crisis means thousands more could be on their way. Officials on the tiny island south of Sicily were trying to process more than 1,200 exhausted, often traumatised and ill Africans in a reception centre designed for less than a third of that number. AFP PHOTO / ALBERTO PIZZOLI (Photo credit should read ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/Getty Images)
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MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) - U.S. military forces attacked the extremist al-Shabaab network in Somalia Monday, the Pentagon said, and a witness described ground-shaking explosions in a strike that reportedly targeted the group's leader.

Al-Shabab had attacked the upscale Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, killing at least 67 people a year ago this month and the U.S. had targeted planners of the bloody assault. There was no immediate comment from al-Shabab and U.S. commanders were waiting to determine the attack's outcome.

U.S. Conducts Operation in Somalia, Includes Drones Strikes

"U.S. military forces conducted an operation in Somalia today against the al-Shabaab network. We are assessing the results of the operation and will provide additional information as and when appropriate," said Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby.

After the U.S. strike Monday night, masked Islamic militants arrested dozens of residents suspected of spying for the U.S. and searched nearby homes, a resident said.

"Mass arrests just started, everyone is being detained," said Mohamed Ali, who lives in Sablale district. "They even searched nearby jungles and stopped the nomads transporting milk and grass to the towns for questioning."

A senior Somali intelligence official said a U.S. drone targeted al-Shabab leader Ahmed Abdi Godane as he left a meeting of the group's top leaders. Godane, also known as Mukhtar Abu Zubeyr, is the group's spiritual leader under whose direction the Somali militants forged an alliance with al-Qaida.

The Somali official, speaking on condition of anonymity since he was not authorized to speak to the media, said intelligence indicated Godane "might have been killed along with other militants." The official said the attack took place in a forest near Sablale district, 105 miles (170 kilometers) south of Mogadishu, where al-Shabab trains its fighters.

The governor of Somalia's Lower Shabelle region, Abdiqadir Mohamed Nor, told The Associated Press that as government and African Union forces were heading to a town in Sablale district, they heard what sounded like an "earthquake" as the al-Shabab bases were hit.

"There was an airstrike near Sablale. We saw something," Nor said.

The U.S. has carried out several airstrikes in Somalia recent years.

A U.S. missile strike in January killed a high-ranking intelligence officer for al-Shabab, and last October a vehicle carrying senior members of the group was hit in a U.S. strike that killed al-Shabab's top explosives expert.

The latest U.S. action comes after Somalia's government forces regained control of a high-security prison in the capital that was attacked on Sunday. Seven heavily armed suspected al-Shabab members had attempted to free other extremists held there.

Somali officials said all seven attackers, three government soldiers and two civilians were killed. Mogadishu's Godka Jilacow prison is an interrogation center for Somalia's intelligence agency, and many suspected militants are believed to be held in underground cells there. The attack started when a suicide car bomber detonated an explosives-laden vehicle at the gate of the prison and the gunmen then fought their way into the prison.

Al-Shabab had attacked the mall in Nairobi last year in retaliation against Kenya for sending troops into Somalia against the extremists. Godane said at the time that the attack was carried out in retaliation for the West's support for Kenya's Somalia intervention and the "interest of their oil companies."

Al Shabab is now mostly active in Somalia's rural regions after being ousted from the capital by African Union forces in 2011.

Somali military officials last week launched a military operation to oust al-Shabab from its last remaining bases in the southern parts of Somalia. On Saturday the militants withdrew from the town of Bulomarer, located about 110 kilometers (70 miles) south of Mogadishu, after hours of fighting.

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