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Al Shabaab leader killed in U.S. air strike in Mogadishu

MOGADISHU (Reuters) - A leader of the Somali militant group al Shabaab was killed by a U.S. air strike in Somalia, U.S. and Somali officials said on Tuesday.

The victim, identified as Abdishakur and also known as Tahliil, was the head of Amniyat, a unit believed responsible for suicide attacks in Mogadishu, Somalia’s National Intelligence and Security Agency said in a statement.

The U.S. Defense Department said on Monday it launched an air strike in Somalia that targeted a senior al Shabaab leader.

A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Abdishakur was killed in the attack along with another al Shabaab militant, who was not identified. There were no civilian casualties in the attack, the official said.

The strike was the latest in a recent campaign against al Shabaab. In September, a U.S. drone strike killed the group’s main leader, Ahmed Abdi Godane.

On Saturday, Zakariya Ismail Ahmed Hersi, an al Shabaab leader with a $3 million bounty on his head, surrendered, according to a Somali government source and local media.

The al Qaeda-aligned al Shabaab is seeking to topple the Western-backed Mogadishu government and impose its own strict version of Islamic law in the country. A spokesman for the group could not be reached for comment.

Additional reporting by David Alexander and Mark Hosenball in Washington; Editing by Edith Honan, Larry King and Gunna Dickson