US special forces have killed a senior Islamic State leader and 10 other militants in a raid on a mountain cave complex in a remote part of northern Somalia.
The operation carried out on Wednesday targeted Bilal al-Sudani, who is thought to have played a key role in bankrolling the terror group’s activities in Africa and Afghanistan, as well as leading the organisation in Somalia.
US President Joe Biden was briefed last week about the Somalia mission, which followed months of planning, and gave the go-ahead this week.
Intelligence officials have had al-Sudani on their radar for years.
US defence secretary Lloyd Austin said: “This action leaves the United States and its partners safer and more secure, and it reflects our steadfast commitment to protecting Americans from the threat of terrorism at home and abroad.”
US Africa Command said in a statement: “Given the remote location of the operation, the assessment is that no civilians were injured or killed.
“Protecting civilians remains a vital part of the command’s operations to promote greater security for all Africans.”
One American involved in the operation was bitten by a dog, but was not seriously injured, according to an administration official.
US officials provided few details about how the mission was carried out or the circumstances of al-Sudani’s killing.
One official said that US forces had intended to capture him but that did not prove to be “feasible” as the operation unfolded.
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The US success comes days after Africa Command said it had conducted a strike northeast of Mogadishu, the capital, near Galcad.
In that operation, Somalia National Army forces were engaged in heavy fighting following an extended and intense attack by more than 100 Al-Shabaab militants.
The US estimated around 30 terrorists were killed in the operation.
The offensive by Somalian forces against Al-Shabaab has been described as the most significant in more than a decade.
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