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Mastermind of Manda Bay attack, his wife killed in US airstrike

Tuesday February 25 2020

US Air Force F-15 fighter jet

US Air Force F-15 fighter jet. A US airstrike in Somalia on February 22, 2020 killed an Al-Shabaab leader and his wife. FILE PHOTO | AFP 

MOHAMED AHMED
By MOHAMED AHMED
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The United States said Tuesday that they have killed the Al-Shabaab leader linked to the Manda Bay attack.

The US Africa Command (Africom) said the terrorist, whom they did not name, was killed alongside his wife, who was also a known Al-Shabaab member, in an airstrike on Saturday.

The airstrike, which was conducted in coordination with Somalia government, reportedly hit Saakow, which is about 320 km west of Mogadishu.

“The two terrorists were identified as a senior Al-Shabaab leader, who was in charge of planning and directing terrorist operations on the Kenya border region, including the recent attack on Manda Bay, and his wife, who also was an active member of Al-Shabaab responsible for facilitating a wide range of terrorist activities,” Africom said in a statement.

Head of Africom General Stephen Townsend said the airstrike was a culmination of the army’s efforts to pursue perpetrators of the January 5 attack.

Those who died in the Manda Bay attack were identified as US Army specialist Henry Mayfield Jr and US contractors Dustin Harrison and Bruce Triplett.

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Five Al-Shabaab militants were killed in the pre-dawn raid.

“Since January 5, US Africa Command and our partners have pursued those responsible for the attack on US and Kenyan forces at Manda Bay.

"This strike demonstrates that we will continue to relentlessly pursue those responsible for Manda Bay and those wishing to do harm to Americans and our African partners,” said the US Army General.

Manda Bay, also known as Camp Simba, is a KDF base which is used by US forces to provide training and counter-terrorism support to its East African partners, respond to crises, and protect US interests.

Since the attack, which Africom acknowledged caught them off guard, the command has taken measures to increase its force protection postures and hardened its operating location, including Manda Bay.

“Al-Shabaab, an Al-Qaeda affiliate, is an evil and remorseless enemy of peace, stability, and freedom in East Africa and threatens the very way of life of people there, as well as Americans and US interests in the region and abroad,” said Townsend.

Alongside its partners, Gen Townsend said, Africom continues to take action to prevent Al-Shabab from planning and conducting external attacks.

He said the command has observed tangible progress in Somalia over the past decade.

The latest report by Armed Conflict, Location and Event Data indicates that Al-Shabaab militants have killed over 4,000 civilians in the last decade, with a majority being Muslims in Somalia.

“US Africa Command will continue to support our African and European partners in the fight against Al-Shabaab. It is important to impact their ability to threaten peace and security in East Africa and prevent their threats against the US from being a reality,” he said.

The combined efforts by US and Kenyan soldiers in dealing with Al-Shabaab come as it emerged that the terror group is currently faced with wrangles between its senior leaders.

The differences in the Al-Shabaab leadership have since seen the expulsion of its two senior commanders, Bashir Qorqab and Mahad Karate, by their ailing senior, Ahmed Diriye.

Reports indicate that the militant group’s commanders have disagreed along clan lines and sharing of resources.

A section of the group has also protested against over-taxation and unfair treatment of its clan.