30 militants of Somalia’s al-Shabaab terrorist group, which claimed responsibility for the Garissa University massacre, were killed in a US drone strike this week, reports the Kenyan government. The deaths included four of the organization’s senior members.
Mwenda Njoka, an Interior Ministry Spokesman for Kenya, said:
Over 30 were killed, among them most wanted terrorists. It was a US drone. Kenyan forces usually provide ground support, information, and intelligence on such strikes.
Early reports stated that Mohamed Mohamud, who masterminded this spring’s Garissa University Massacre, was among the dead, but this has since been redacted. Kenya’s Interior Ministry had previously put out a “Most Wanted” notice that offered a reward of 20 million Kenyan shillings (about $215,000) for Mohamud, who has been variously known by the names Dulyadin, Kuno, and Gamadhere, but he is believed to still be at large.
Another drone strike by the US killed the group’s leader, Ahmed Abdi Godane, last September.
Elders from Bardhere in the Gedo region of Somalia verified that at least two missiles struck Shabaab vehicles, according to the AFP.
Abdiwahab Ali, an elder of the area, said:
We heard two big explosions and the information we are getting indicates that vehicles were targeted close to a Shabaab military base.
Another elder, Hassan Gesle, said:
Village residents are telling us a missile fired from an aircraft struck a vehicle and a nearby military camp belonging to Shabaab.
The Garissa University Massacre occurred at a school in the northeast of Kenya in April of 2015. It was al-Shabaab’s deadliest attack to date with 147 victims killed and 79 injured, writes Robyn Kriel and Greg Botelho of CNN. The gunmen took 700 hostages, releasing the Muslim students and murdering the Christians. Since then, the group has made numerous attacks across northeastern Kenya.
Al-Shabaab is a militant jihadist group founded in 2006 with ties to al-Qaeda and Boko Haram. Shabaab, which means “youth,” is being removed from major cities; the elders quoted above live near one of its last outposts. National governments hope that the removal of its leaders will decentralize and destabilize the movement, leading to its eventual disbanding.
Its members number between 7,000 and 9,000, most of whom are more concerned with local conflicts than with the philosophy expounded by the leaders.
This week, President Obama will be visiting Kenya for the first time since he was elected president.