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6 killed in US Somalia strike

Al-Shabab's top leader was travelling in one of two vehicles hit Monday night in a U.S. military strike, a member of the Somali Islamic extremist group said Tuesday.

The spokesman would not say whether al-Shabab leader Ahmed Abdi Godane was among the six militants killed.

The two vehicles were heading toward the coastal town of Barawe, al-Shabab's main base, when they were hit, Abu Mohammed told The Associated Press.

U.S. military forces attacked the extremist al-Shabab network in Somalia Monday, the Pentagon said. A witness in Somalia described ground-shaking explosions in a strike that reportedly targeted the group's leader.

Al-Shabab attacked the upscale Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, killing at least 67 people a year ago this month and the U.S. targeted planners of the bloody assault. U.S. commanders were waiting to determine the attack's outcome.

"U.S. military forces conducted an operation in Somalia today against the al-Shabaab network. We are assessing the results of the operation and will provide additional information as and when appropriate," said Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby.

After the U.S. strike in a forest south of Mogadishu, masked Islamic militants in the area arrested dozens of residents they suspected of spying for the U.S. and searched nearby homes, a resident said.

"Mass arrests just started, everyone is being detained," said Mohamed Ali, who lives in Sablale district. "They even searched nearby jungles and stopped the nomads transporting milk and grass to the towns for questioning."

A senior Somali intelligence official said a U.S. drone targeted Godane as he left a meeting of the group's top leaders. Godane, also known as Mukhtar Abu Zubeyr, is the group's spiritual leader under whose direction the Somali militants forged an alliance with al-Qaida. In 2012 the U.S. offered a reward of up to $7 million for information leading to his arrest.

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