Feb. 25 (UPI) -- A U.S. airstrike in Somalia last week killed an al-Shabab leader suspected of being involved in a January attack in Kenya that killed a U.S. service member, the U.S. military said Tuesday.
A statement from U.S. Africa Command said the Feb. 22 airstrike near Saakow, Somalia, killed the unnamed al-Shabab leader and his wife, also a suspected militant. The male leader is suspected of planning and directing terror operations near the Somalia-Kenya border, including the Jan. 5 attack at Manda Bay.
"Since January 5, U.S. Africa Command and our partners have pursued those responsible for the attack on U.S. and Kenyan forces at Manda Bay," said U.S. Army Gen. Stephen Townsend, commander of AFRICOM. "This strike demonstrates that we will continue to relentlessly pursue those responsible for Manda Bay and those wishing to do harm to Americans and our African partners."
The Department of Defense identified the service member killed in the Jan. 5 attack as Spc. Henry J. Mayfield Jr., 23, of Evergreen Park, Ill. He was in Kenya supporting Operation Octave shield as a member of the 1st Battalion, 58th Aviation Regiment, 164th Theater Airfield Operations Group from Fort Rucker, Ala.
In addition to Mayfield, two Defense Department contractors were killed in the attack and two others were injured.
Kenya Defense Forces said militants attempted to breach security at the Manda Bay Airfield around dawn, striking Mayfield and the four others and damaging six civilian aircraft.
"Al-Shabab, an al-Qaida affiliate, is an evil and remorseless enemy of peace, stability and freedom in East Africa and threatens the very way of life of people there, as well as Americans and U.S. interest in the region and abroad," Townsend said.