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Terrorist Leader Confirmed Killed By U.S. Military Airstrike In Somalia

The U.S. Department of Defense says al-Shabaab leader Ahmed Godane was indeed killed during a military airstrike in Somalia this week.

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AP / Farah Abdi Warsameh

Armed al-Shabaab fighters on pickup trucks prepare to travel into the city, just outside Mogadishu, in Somalia. U.S. military forces targeted the Islamic extremist al-Shabaab network in an operation on Sept. 1, the Pentagon said.

The U.S. Department of Defense confirmed that al-Shabaab leader Ahmed Godane was killed during a military airstrike in Somalia this week.

"Godane's removal is a major symbolic and operational loss to the largest al-Qaida affiliate in Africa and reflects years of painstaking work by our intelligence, military and law enforcement professionals," the White House said in a statement by the Press Secretary.

Earlier this week, U.S. officials said that a military drone launched Hellfire missiles at at least two vehicles in southern Somalia. Six people were reported to have been killed in the strike in the south of the country. It was reported that Godane was the primary target of the operation and was one of the people in the vehicles hit by U.S. forces.

The day after the strike, the Pentagon said it was "assessing the results of the operation," but wouldn't confirm if Godane was killed, leading some to doubt that he was actually dead.

The Pentagon released a statement Friday confirming Godane's death:

"The U.S. military undertook operations against Godane on Sept. 1, which led to his death," said Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby. "Removing Godane from the battlefield is a major symbolic and operational loss to al-Shabaab. The United States works in coordination with its friends, allies and partners to counter the regional and global threats posed by violent extremist organizations."

Al-Shabaab is the terrorist organization that took credit for the attack on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, in September 2013, which left 67 dead and nearly 200 injured.

AP Photo/The New York Times, Tyler Hicks

A woman and children hide inside the Westgate Mall during the attack on Sept. 21, 2013.

Michael Hayes is a senior reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Mike Hayes at mike@buzzfeed.com.

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