Elizabeth Weise and Jim Michaels, USA TODAY
U.S. forces launched an attack against a top level al-Qaeda linked target in Somalia two weeks after the militant group launched a deadly attack on a Nairobi shopping mall, officials said.
The Pentagon confirmed that U.S. military personnel launched an attack Friday against a terrorist linked to al-Shabab, the al-Qaeda- linked group that launched the mall attack.
Pentagon press secretary George Little confirmed a counter-terrorism operation against al-Shabab took place but would not release details.
A U.S. official who asked not to be named said no U.S. personnel were injured or killed in the attack. It was not clear whether the target was killed or captured in the operation.
It is believed that the target was killed in the firefight, the The New York Times reported a senior American official saying. However that was not confirmed before the U.S. forces were forced to withdraw, the official also told the paper.
The Times reported that elite Navy SEALs raided a seaside villa where al-Shabab members were staying, in the Somali town of Baraawe. The firefight lasted more than an hour. Somali officials told the newspaper that the government had been informed of the raid.
U.S. officials have been concerned that al-Shabab might attempt attacks in the United States and have sought to weaken the group. The group is based in Somalia and linked to al-Qaeda. It has been linked to attacks throughout Africa, including the Nairobi mall.
The attack came as reports surfaced that U.S. forces near Tripoli, Libya, captured al-Qaeda member Abu Anas al-Libi, who is believed to have helped plan the 1998 U.S. Embassy attacks in Kenya and Tanzania that killed more than 220 people. The FBI had offered a reward of up to $5 million for information leading to his capture. The Libya attack was reported by The New York Times and NBC, citing unnamed sources.
The Pentagon did not confirm the reports Saturday.
Al-Libi, whose real name is Nazih Abdul-Hamed al-Ruqai, was linked to Osama bin Laden and could ultimately be brought to the U.S. to stand trial, NBC reported. He has been on the USA's most-wanted fugitives list since 2000, when a New York court indicted him for his role in the embassy attacks, theTimes reported.
Contributing: Katharine Lackey, USA TODAY