US special forces carried out two separate operations in Africa targeting Al Qaeda and Al Shabaab militants over the weekend, and caught longtime Al Qaeda member Abu Anas al Libi in Libya. The Pentagon confirmed Sunday that US military conducted a "successful" operation Saturday in Libya to capture Abu Anas al Libi, who was behind the bombings of the US embassies in Tanzania and Kenya in 1998.
"He (Libi) is currently lawfully detained under the law of war in a secure location outside of Libya," Xinhua quoted Pentagon spokesman George Little as saying in a statement.
The operation was approved by US President Barack Obama and conducted by the US military with coordination across US national security and intelligence agencies, Little said. He added that no US personnel or civilians on the ground were injured during the operation.
Libi has been indicted by a US court for his alleged role in Al Qaeda's conspiracy to kill US nationals and to conduct attacks against US interests worldwide. He was believed to be involved in the plots to attack US forces stationed in Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Somalia, and the bombings of US embassies in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi, Kenya, that killed more than 200 people in 1998. "These actions are a clear sign that the United States is committed to using all the tools at our disposal to bring to justice those who commit terrorist acts against Americans," Little said.
The spokesman did not mention if the operation was conducted with the knowledge of Libyan authorities, though Libya Sunday demanded an explanation from the US government for the "kidnap" of a Libyan citizen in an unauthorised military raid in its territory, reminiscent of US commando raid at Abbottabad in Pakistan that killed Al Qaeda founder leader Osama bin Laden. "The Libyan government has been following the reports of the kidnap of one of the Libyan citizens wanted by the authorities in the United States," the Libyan government said in a statement. "As soon as it heard the reports, the Libyan government contacted the US authorities to demand an explanation."
The statement said Libya underlined its desire to see Libyan citizens tried in their own country, whatever the accusations levelled against them. Libi's capture was one of the two special operations that US military conducted over the weekend in Africa that targeted US-designated terrorists.
Little confirmed later Saturday that US military forces also launched an overnight operation against a known Al Shabaab terrorist responsible for the recent deadly attack at a shopping mall in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi. He did not reveal further details, including the name of the targeted terrorist.
US media earlier quoted a senior US official as reporting that a team of US Navy SEALs took part in the Al Shabaab raid in Somalia, where the terrorist group is based. The US troops had to withdraw before they could confirm whether the target was killed as they came under fire, but no SEAL was thought to be killed in the operation, said the official.
Somalia state radio and local residents said Saturday that unidentified foreign forces attacked a house in the Al Shabaab-controlled southern Somalia town of Barawe in an overnight raid. The attack was launched from the sea at a house protected by Al Shabaab fighters and the battle lasted for more than an hour, according to residents of Barawe in Lower Shabelle region.
Al-Shabaab, an Al Qaeda-linked Somali militant group, has claimed responsibility for the attack on Nairobi's upscale Westgate shopping mall Sep 21, in which more than 70 people were killed.