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What seems to be an air-strike attack targeted at one of the biggest training camps of al-Shabaab in Afgoye district in the Lower Shabelle 30 kilometer southwest the capital where the Islamist group al-Shabaab controls.
There are reports that senior al-Shabaab members, Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, the group’s spokesman Sheikh Mohamud Rage (Ali Dhere), American citizen Omar Hammami (al-Amriki) and possibly overall leader Ahmed Godane, may have been killed in the attack.
However, an al-Shabaab official said that this information was false and Somalia Report has confirmed Aweys is alive.
Witnesses in Hawo-Tako village which is not far away from the targeted camp told Somalia Report they could see smoke and a blaze at about 9:30(PM) local time.
The position, called Lanta-Buro, is known as an al-Shabaab training camp its fighters and is also close to a checkpoint which the group uses to tax vehicles travelling in the city and neighboring areas like the capital city of Mogadishu.
Witnesses said it was a missile aimed at both the al-Shabaab checkpoint and their training camp.
“We first thought it was like a passing plane over the city, minutes later we have heard explosions then saw the blaze,” the witness said.
Unconfirmed reports say the blast came as several fighters were there however not yet disclosed how many among the casualties. The target appeared to be a meeting area in a building.
On Monday morning, residents in Afgoye were denied access to the bombed area by heavily armed al-Shabaab fighters, who warned the bus-drivers do not stop at the roadside.
Abul Qadir Mohamed Nor, TFG governor of the Shabelle regions (which are controlled by al-Shabaab) said they had information indicating that Abu Mansor Al-Amriki), Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys and the group’s spokesman, Sheikh Mohamud Rage, were killed. Some reports also said Godane was killed.
However, previous airstrikes have led to speculation over the deaths over senior leaders, although it often turns out to be wishful thinking on the part of the TFG and its allies. The TFG has previously claimed to have killed senior figures such as Fuad Shangole, only for the al-Shabaab leaders to pop up in rude health.
A junior al-Shabaab member, who requested anonymity, told Somalia Report that all of the leaders were still alive. Ali Dhere, Fuad Shangole and Godane left Lanta Buro shortly before the attack, he said. Aweys is also still alive, he added.
As well as Lanta Buro, Afgoye and Marka were targeted. The source said al-Shabaab believed the attacks were not carried out by aircraft, but were missiles fired from a warship off the coast of Somalia. He did, however, say that al-Shabaab suffered some casualties.
“It is clear there may be serious casualties against al-Shabaab from the attack but I can’t confirm to you how many,” a retired soldier in Afgoye, who requested not be named, told Somalia Report.