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Westgate mall attack mastermind killed by drone strike

A senior Al-Shabaab commander who masterminded the Westgate terrorist attack was on Thursday killed in Somalia.

Adan Garar died after the vehicle he was travelling in was hit by a missile fired from a drone in Bardhere.

Two of his aides were also killed in the 2pm strike carried out by the United States forces.

He is the highest ranked Al-Shabaab commander to be killed since Ahmed Abdi Godane was eliminated in a similar strike in September last year.

The Kenyan military exchanged intelligence with the US forces before the operation was conducted.

Kenya Defence Forces, though in Somalia, did not take part in the strike since rules of engagement by the Africa Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) restrict the troops to Sector 2.

The strike happened in Sector 3, which is under Ugandan and Ethiopian troops.

INNER CIRCLE

Garar was a close ally of Ahmed Omar Abu Ubeid, the current overall leader of Al-Shabaab.

He was a member of Shura, which is the inner circle of the supreme leader and the highest decision-making body of the Al-Qaeda-linked militants.

Information about the strike was received with celebrations across Kenya’s security circles because Garar was associated with other numerous terror activities in Kenya.

Garar is believed to have been the architect of two attacks in Mandera last year that left 64 people dead.

In one incident, terrorists raided a camp at a quarry at night, woke the workers and killed 36 of them.

Earlier, another band of militants in the same area stopped a bus, pulled out the passengers and separated 22 non-Muslims and killed them.

Garar was also linked two terrorists who were arrested while driving a vehicle laden with explosives in Mombasa early last year.

FIVE OTHERS KILLED

Investigations revealed that the vehicle entered Kenya through Mandera and the suspects had been in touch with Garar all through.

Separately, five Al-Shabaab operatives were killed as they attempted to raid a military camp near the spot where Garar was struck.

One was shot dead by Ethiopian troops while four died after they detonated explosives strapped on them.

Another who was shot and injured was arrested.

In Sector 2, KDF intensified air strikes targeting top Al-Shabaab commanders after September 21, 2013 terror attack in which gunmen opened fire and hurled grenades at shoppers at Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, killing 67 people and injuring 240 others.

US forces have also intensified raids since then and many other commanders have been killed.

Kenya sent the military to war in a foreign country for the first time in 2011.

About Kenyan 4,660 troops are fighting Al-Shabaab in Somalia under Amisom.