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Unclear if Kenyan airstrike killed al-Shabab spy chief

By Ed Adamczyk Follow @adamczyk_ed Contact the Author   |   Feb. 19, 2016 at 12:30 PM

NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb. 19 (UPI) -- Al-Shabab has denied a Kenyan army statement that the militant group's spy chief was killed in an airstrike earlier this month in southern Somalia.

Military spokesman David Obonyo on Thursday announced the death of Mohammed Karatey -- also known as Abdirahim Mohamed Warsame and Mahad Karate -- and 10 other members of the Islamist group in an airstrike Feb. 8

The Kenyan army identified Karatey as a key player in the Amnyiat, a group within al-Shabab, which itself a branch of al-Qaida, responsible for the deaths of 147 people in an April 2015 attack on Kenya's Garissa University.

He was also allegedly involved in an attack on a Kenyan military post in Somalia in January, in which, al-Shabab said, 100 Kenyan soldiers were killed. Kenya acknowledged the battle but did not give casualty figures, and has since launched airstrikes against al-Shabab positions in Somalia.

The U.S. State Department had offered up to $5 million for "information that brings [Karatey] to justice."

A pro-al-Shabab website reported the Kenyan army's story is untrue, that there was no airstrike and Karate remains alive.

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