US Military Strike Targets Shabaab Leaders
The US military has carried out targeted airstrikes against al Shabaab militants in Somalia aimed at taking out the group's leaders.
Special operations forces conducted the strikes using manned and unmanned aircraft, a Pentagon spokesman said on Tuesday.
Navy Rear Admiral John Kirby said the results of the strikes are still being assessed and it was not immediately clear if Somali Ahmed Abdi Godane, the militant group's leader, was hit.
The strikes "hit what we were aiming at", Rear Adm Kirby said, adding that if Godane was killed, it would be a "significant blow" to the organisation.
The US has previously offered a reward of up to $7m for information leading to the arrest of Godane, who is the spiritual leader of the al Qaeda-linked group.
A Somali governor said the airstrikes occurred as Godane, also known as Abu Zubayr, left a meeting of the al Shabaab's top leaders.
Abdukadir Mohamed Nur, governor for southern Somalia's Lower Shabelle region, said there were "casualties" but it was not clear if Godane or any other senior figures had been killed.
However, an unnamed Somali intelligence official told the AP news agency that intelligence indicated Godane "might have been killed".
The 37-year-old militant was was reportedly trained by the Taliban in Afghanistan and took over the leadership of al Shabaab in 2008 after Adan Hashi Ayro was killed in a US missile attack.
Al Shabaab is an al Qaeda-affiliated Islamist group that wants to impose its own strict version of Sharia law in Somalia and has also carried out attacks in Kenya and Uganda.
It controlled most of the southern region of Somalia from 2006 until 2011, when African peacekeeping troops marched into the capital, Mogadishu.
The airstrikes came as the African Union and Somali forces launched a major offensive aimed at seizing key ports.
Mr Nur said the al Shabaab leadership were meeting to discuss the "current offensive".
He said they were gathered at a location used as a training camp for suicide bombers in a remote area of the Lower Shabelle region, south of the capital.
(c) Sky News 2014