Mogadishu — US forces conducted two strikes on al-Qaeda-linked fighters in southern Somalia that the nation’s government said killed a senior militant.

The attacks took place Thursday near the Benadir region, US Africa Command said in a statement, without giving further details. Somalia’s government said President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed authorised a "co-ordinated operation with [an] international partner".

The unidentified man killed was a "high-level" leader of the al-Shabaab group responsible for bombings and assassinations in the capital, Mogadishu, the country’s information ministry said in an e-mailed statement. There was no immediate independent confirmation of the strikes.

The US, which has already supported Somalia’s battle against al-Shabaab with drone strikes, has stepped up involvement this year, in May announcing the first death of a US service member in combat there since 1993.

Al-Shabaab has been waging an insurgency since 2006 in a bid to impose its version of Islamic law. While its fighters were forced out of Mogadishu in 2011 by Somali and African Union forces, they still conduct regular attacks.

A suicide bomber detonated himself and killed at least one other person in Mogadishu on Friday after he was prevented from entering a mosque where senior army officials were attending prayers, Aidid Ahmed, an officer at the scene, said by phone.


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