Somalia, U.S. forces kill al Shabaab leader behind numerous attacks in region – official

MOGADISHU (Reuters) – Somali and U.S. forces have killed a senior leader of the militant Islamist al Shabaab group who had planned numerous attacks in Somalia and Kenya, Somalia’s information minister said.

“Maalim Ayman … was confirmed to have been killed in a joint operation by the Somali National Army with assistance from US forces on December 17th,” Daud Aweis said on his X account late on Thursday.

“Ayman was accountable for planning multiple lethal terrorist attacks in Somalia and nearby countries,” he said.

The U.S. military’s Africa Command (AFRICOM) had conducted an air strike, an AFRICOM spokesperson said, but added that the strike’s target was yet to be confirmed.The strike was conducted against the militant group near Jilib town in southern Somalia, AFRICOM and the Somali Information Ministry said.

Ayman was on a U.S. State Department Rewards for Justice wanted list, with a $10 million reward offered for information leading to his arrest or conviction.

The department said he was responsible for preparing an attack on a military base in Kenya in January 2020 in which three Americans – one U.S. military service member and two contractors – were killed.

(Reporting by Abdi Sheikh; Additional reporting by George Obulutsa in Nairobi and Phillip Stewart in Washington; Editing by Bhargav Acharya and Frances Kerry)