NAIROBI: A suspected drone attack killed three members of Somalia's al Shabaab Islamist rebel group on Thursday in southern Somalia while they were driving in a car, officials said.
The attack took place Thursday evening in the village of Abaq Xaluul, outside the town of Bardhere in the southern part of Somalia.
Security officials in Nairobi said they had been informed the attack targeted a car that belonged to Adan Garaar, a top official in al-Shabab's security service, the Amniyat
Garaar is believed to have links with the gunmen who attacked Westgate Mall in 2013, killing more than 70 people.
"We have been informed that among those who died in the strike was Garaar. He organized the Westgate attack in Nairobi," said a senior security official who asked not to be named.
The official said Garaar's group had also planned attacks in Kampala and Mombasa but they were foiled in 2014.
A vehicle he had dispatched with explosives inside to Mombasa was intercepted after arriving there last year, officials said.
The other victims were not immediately identified.
Witnesses said the vehicle was destroyed in the drone strike.
Earlier, al-Shabab claimed responsibility for an attack that targeted a key Somali political leader and left at least eight people dead in Baidoa.
In 2014, a U.S. unmanned aircraft killed Ahmed Godane, the then leader of al Shabaab, forcing the group to appoint a new chief who is in charge now.
In January 2015, a U.S. missile strike killed Yusef Dheeq, blamed for masterminding attacks at home and abroad.
The terror group has been under pressure from a ground offensive of African Union peacekeeping troops and Somali soldiers which has driven the out of strongholds. They however still holds smaller settlements and some rural areas.
Kenyan troops are among Amison personnel fighting the group.