The United States has confirmed that Ahmed Abdi Godane, a founder of Somalia’s al-Shabab group, was killed in a US air strike this week.
“We have confirmed that Ahmed Godane, the co-founder of al-Shabab, has been killed,” the Pentagon press secretary, Rear Admiral John Kirby, said on Friday.
It would be recalled that at least six people were killed on Tuesday as the US hit a convoy of senior al-Shabab leaders. Since then, the US was assessing the results to see who died.
The attack targeted vehicles and encampment near Barawe, the armed group’s base of operations.
The US said the targets were senior commanders of al-Shabab, including Godane, also known as Abu Zubeyr.
Confirming Godane’s death, the US called it a “major symbolic and operational loss” for the al- Qaeda-affiliated organisation.
The US State Department has listed Godane as one of the world’s eight top “terror” fugitives and analysts say his death would mark a serious setback for al-Shabab.
Somalian President Hassan Sheikh Mahmoud, who said the airstrikes against al-Shabab’s leadership were carried out with his government’s knowledge, called on “the group’s fighters to embrace peace and take advantage of a 45-day amnesty period declared by his government”.
Last October, US special operations forces launched an attack on a house in Barawe against another top al-Shabab commander but were forced to withdraw without killing their target.
Al-Shabab fighters are fighting to overthrow the Somali government regularly launching attacks against state targets and in neighbouring countries that contribute to the African Union force.
Following the Pentagon announcement, Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud reiterated his government’s amnesty offer to al-Shabab fighters saying they should reject being “pawns of an international terror campaign”.