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Drone Strike Kills High-ranking Militants in Somalia

by VOA News July 16, 2015

A drone strike in southern Somalia has killed 30 members of the al-Qaida-linked militant group al-Shabab, including several top leaders, Kenyan officials said Thursday.

The U.S. military has not commented on media reports that a U.S. drone carried out the attack late Wednesday near the town of Bardere in the Gedo region.

The slain al-Shabab leaders included Jama Dere and Ismael Jabhad, said Mwanda Njoka, spokesman for Kenya's ministry of interior and coordination of national government.

A local journalist tells VOA Dere was the deputy commander of al-Shabab fighters in the Lower Jubba region, and Jabhad was a senior military official.

The Somali town of Bardere, about 400 kilometers southwest of Mogadishu, is a stronghold for al-Shabab. Somali government troops and Ethiopian forces are preparing for an assault to retake the town.

The U.S. has used drone strikes to attack al-Shabab leaders in the past, including the group's supreme leader, Ahmed Abdi Godane, who was killed in a drone strike in September 2014.

Al-Shabab has been pushed out of most of the territory it once controlled across southern and central Somalia. But the group continues to launch suicide attacks in both Somalia and Kenya, including an assault at a Kenyan college in April that killed 148 people.

VOA's Somali Service contributed to this report.

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