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US carries out missile strike against Somali militant, official says

The U.S. military carried out a missile strike in southern Somalia on Sunday to target a senior figure in the Al Shabaab terrorist group who had ties to Al Qaeda, a senior defense official confirmed to Fox News.

But it was unclear if the morning raid, in which witnesses said a vehicle was struck, was successful.

"We'll know more tomorrow," the official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Fox News.

The Associated Press, citing a member of Al Shabaab, reported that Sahal Iskudhuq, a member of the Somali rebel group, was killed in the strike, along with his driver.

Last October, a U.S. military strike hit a vehicle carrying senior members of the group, killing its top explosives expert. Earlier that month, U.S. Navy SEALs had raided a coastal Somali town to take down a Kenyan Al Shabaab member. The SEALs withdrew before capturing or killing their target — Abdulkadir Mohamed Abdulkadir, known as Ikrima — who was identified as the lead planner of a plot by Al Shabaab to attack Kenya's parliament building and the United Nations office in capital, Nairobi, in 2011 and 2012.

The United States recently sent a handful of conventional U.S. troops to serve in Mogadishu as advisers to the Somali military. They were the first U.S. forces to be sent to the country since the ill-fated "Black Hawk down" incident in 1993, in which 18 service members were killed in urban fighting in Mogadishu.

Kenya has faced multiple attacks by the militants, who want the country's military to leave Somalia. In September, the militants attacked Nairobi's upscale Westgate Mall with guns and grenades, killing at least 67 people.

Al Shabaab is now mostly active in Somalia's rural regions, after being ousted from the capital by African Union forces in 2011. But the group is still able to launch lethal attacks — often involving militants on suicide missions — within Mogadishu, the seat of government.

Fox News' Jennifer Griffin and The Associated Press contributed to this report.