Fox News’ Jennifer Griffin is reporting that US Navy SEALS have conducted a raid of the Al Shabaab militant group in Somalia, killing at least one militant.
The group is linked to last month’s Kenya mall attack that killed more than 60 people.
In Somalia, officials say international military forces carried out a pre-dawn strike Saturday against foreign fighters in the town of Barawe, which they have said was a strike aimed at “high-profile” targets.
Fox News confirms the strike two weeks after Al Shabaab militants attacked Nairobi’s Westgate Mall.
Griffin has learned that the strike was carried out in the early hours before morning prayers in Barawe, which is the same town that Navy SEALs killed a most-wanted Al Qaeda operative four years ago.
The leader of Al Shabaab, Mukhtar Abu Zubeyr — a.k.a. Ahmed Godane — had claimed responsibility for the Nairobi attack and justified it as retaliation for Kenya’s military deployment inside Somalia. They were attempting to prevent a takeover by the militant Islamic Somali-based group.
In Kenya, a military spokesman released the names of four men implicated in the mall attack. Fox News reports the events as follows:
A resident of Barawe — a seaside town south of Mogadishu — said by telephone that heavy gunfire woke up residents before dawn prayers. An Al Shabaab fighter who gave his name as Abu Mohamed said “foreign” soldiers attacked a house, prompting militants to rush to the scene to capture a soldier. Mohamed said that effort was not successful.
The foreign troops attacked a two-story beachside house in Barawe where foreign fighters lived, battling their way inside, said Mohamed, who said he had visited the scene. Al Shabaab has a formal alliance with Al Qaeda, and hundreds of foreign fighters from the U.S., Britain and Middle Eastern countries fight alongside Somali members of Al Shabaab.
A Somali intelligence official said the targets of the raid were “high-profile” foreigners in the house. The intelligence official also said the strike was carried out by an international military. A second intelligence official also confirmed the attack. Both insisted on anonymity to discuss intelligence matters.
Foreign militaries — often the U.S. but not always — have carried out several strikes inside Somalia in recent years against Al Shabaab or Al Qaeda leaders, as well as criminal kidnappers.
In Kenya, military spokesman Maj. Emmanuel Chirchir on Saturday confirmed the names of four fighters implicated in the Westgate Mall attack last month. Chirchir named the attackers as Abu Baara al-Sudani, Omar Nabhan, Khattab al-Kene and Umayr, names that were first broadcast by a local Kenyan television station.
“I confirm those are the names of the terrorist,” he said in a Twitter message sent to The Associated Press.
In September 2009 a daylight commando raid carried out by Navy SEALs in Barawe killed six people, including Nabhan, one of the most-wanted Al Qaeda operatives in the region and an alleged plotter in the 1998 bombings at U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that killed more than 250 people.
A resident of Barawe who told the Associated Press that his name as Mohamed Bile, claimed that militants in Barawe closed the town down as the hours passed after the assault. All traffic and civilian movements have been restricted. Militants were carrying out house-to-house searches, likely to find evidence that a spy had given intelligence to a foreign power used to launch the attack, he said.
“We woke up to find Al Shabaab fighters had sealed off the area and their hospital is also inaccessible. The town is in a tense mood,” Bile said by phone.
The identities of the four men from the mall attack were made known after a Nairobi station obtained and made known a broadcast on closed circuit television, which was footage from Westgate. The footage shows four attackers with machine guns calmly strolling through a room inside the mall complex. Officials could visibly see what appeared to be blood on one of the men’s pants.In the footage it does not appear that he is not limping.