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An undated and unlocated file handout picture provided by U.S. website "Rewards for Justice" shows Ahmed Abdi Godane. / AFP/Getty Images

WASHINGTON - The Pentagon on Friday confirmed that the leader of al-Shabaab, an al-Qaeda-linked organization in Africa, was killed in a U.S. airstrike in Somalia this week.

The leader, Ahmed Abdi Godane, was targeted Monday in an airstrike that hit a vehicle and compound in a militant stronghold south of the capital, Mogadishu.

Al-Shabaab has been linked to a number of attacks in Africa, including the bloody siege at the upscale Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, in September 2013 that killed 67 people.

"Removing Godane from the battlefield is a major symbolic and operational loss to al-Shabaab," Pentagon press secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby said in a statement.

At the time of the strike, the Pentagon said it could not confirm Godane's death.

Hellfire missiles and laser-guided munitions were used to strike the targets. Both manned aircraft and unmanned drones participated in the attack.

The Pentagon said no U.S. ground troops were involved in the operation.

"The United States works in coordination with its friends, allies and partners to counter the regional and global threats posed by violent extremist organizations," Kirby said in the statement released Friday.

The United States has backed the Somali government, which has pushed the terrorist group out of Mogadishu. Despite the government successes, the terror group has been able to operate in parts of the country that remain out of the reach of the government's influence.

The White House said it would continue to pursue the organization.

"Even as this is an important step forward in the fight against al-Shabaab, the United States will continue to use the tools at our disposal - financial, diplomatic, intelligence and military - to address the threat that al-Shabaab and other terrorist groups pose to the United States and the American people," the White House said in a statement.



Copyright 2014USAToday

Read the original story: Pentagon: Airstrike kills terror leader in Somalia

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