MOGADISHU (Reuters) - African Union peacekeepers and Somali government troops have killed several senior figures in the al Qaeda-linked Islamist militant group al Shabaab in Somalia in the last few days, the peacekeeping mission said on Tuesday.
Al Shabaab was driven out of Mogadishu by the African Union force AMISOM in 2011, and last year it was pushed out of major strongholds in the south by AMISOM and the Somali National Army.
It still controls some rural areas, however, and carries out frequent attacks in the capital and other areas in its attempt to dislodge the Western-backed government. On Tuesday, its fighters shot dead lawmaker Mohamed Ali's two bodyguards in the capital and wounded Ali himself, police said.
AMISOM said the dead al Shabaab leaders included its commander and his deputy in the town of Janaale, Abdirashir Bugdube and Sheikh Mohamed Ali, and its commander in Leego, Aden Bale.
They also included an al Shabaab judge in Janaale, Mohamed Abribao; a Yemeni bomb maker known as “Abu Islam”; and a man identified as al Shabaab's chief trainer, the Kenyan Sheikh Mansur, AMISOM's statement said.
It also said AMISOM and Somali forces had killed Hassan Ali Dhoore, the head of al Shabaab's intelligence arm Amniyat in the lower Shabelle region. However, the U.S. Pentagon said on Monday that it had killed Dhoore in an air strike on March 31.
Al Shabaab's military spokesman, Abdiasis Abu Musab, said only Dhoore had been killed, and dismissed the other reported deaths as propaganda.
AMISOM said it was now working to clear improvised explosive devices from Janaale and its main access road.
Reporting by Abdi Sheikh and Feisal Omar in Mogadishu; Writing by George Obulutsa in Nairobi; Editing by Kevin Liffey