A senior leader of the Al-Shabaab militant group was reportedly killed on Thursday in a suspected U.S. drone attack in Somalia's Gedo region, security forces have said.
A local security official in Gedo told The Anadolu Agency that Aden Garaar, Al-Shabaab's head of external operations, was travelling in a convoy of two vehicles between the towns of Dinsor and Baradheere when targeted by an aerial drone.
The Somali government, however, has yet to officially confirm the report.
Garaar was appointed head of external operations, which is under the intelligence wing of Al-Shabaab, by group leader Abu Ubeydah following the killing of Yusuf Dheeq in February in a US airstrike.
He was believed to have been the mastermind behind Kenya's Westgate Mall attack in 2013, when heavily-armed gunmen attacked the mall and took scores of hostages.
The attack, which was later claimed by Al-Shabaab, left 67 people – including four hostage-takers – dead.
Several senior Al-Shabaab members have been killed in earlier U.S. drone strikes.
In September, the group's leader Ahmed Godane Abu Zubeyr was killed in a drone attack in southern Somalia.
Al-Shabaab, which is waging an insurgency against the Somali government, has recently suffered several significant blows, losing most of its strongholds in southern and central Somalia to government and African Union troops.
Nevertheless, the group has continued to launch deadly attacks on government officials and security personnel.