News Briefs – June 3, 2016


U.S. drone strike targets al-Shabab commander in Somalia

A U.S. drone strike May 27 targeted a senior military commander of al-Shabab in Somalia, the Pentagon said June 1, adding that they can’t confirm yet if he was killed.
U.S. officials also said that American forces provided some support to an African-led military operation in Somalia that targeted Mohamed Dulyadayn, who is believed to be the mastermind of the Garissa University attack in Kenya in April 2015 which killed 148 people. Dulyadayn is also known as Kuno Gamadere.
The officials were not authorized to discuss the operation publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. They said they did not have details of that operation and they have not yet confirmed if Dulyadayn was killed. They said the U.S. did not conduct the operation, but provided advice and assistance.
Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook said that the U.S. drone strike in south-central Somalia targeted Abdullahi Haji Da’ud, a key coordinator of al-Shabab attacks in the region. Da’ud also previously served as head of the group’s intelligence.
“We are confident that the removal from the terrorist network of this experienced al-Shabaab commander with extensive operational experience will disrupt near-term attack planning, potentially saving many innocent lives,” Cook said, adding that the U.S. is still assessing the results of the strike.
The strike comes two months after a similar drone attack in Somalia killed an al-Shabab leader, Hassan Ali Dhoore.
Dhoore helped facilitate a deadly Christmas Day 2014 attack at Mogadishu International Airport and a March 2015 attack at the Maka al-Mukarramah Hotel.
The U.S. has routinely provided support, including helicopter transportation at times, for troops from the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), which is the peacekeeping operation there. AP

Philippine navy commissions its first landing dock vessel

The Philippine navy commissioned its first amphibious landing dock and three smaller landing craft June 1 as it continues to modernize its fleet amid a territorial row with China in the South China Sea.
President Benigno Aquino III said the landing dock BRP Tarlac, which can transport a landing force, is now the navy’s biggest ship. It was acquired under a 60.1 billion peso ($1.3 billion) military modernization program begun in 2010, he said at the navy’s 118th anniversary ceremony.
Over the years, the Philippine military has deteriorated to become one of Asia’s weakest. Aquino said his government has upgraded its capabilities through the modernization program.
The 123-meter (400-foot) landing dock, which can also carry transport helicopters, is the first of two such vessels for the navy. The second, also built in Indonesia, is expected to be delivered next year.
The three smaller landing craft were bought from Australia to augment two similar vessels donated earlier by the Australian government.
Aquino, whose six-year term ends on June 30, said a general purpose oceanographic research vessel that can help map the seabed is also expected to be delivered in June. Also being acquired are two frigates, two anti-submarine warfare helicopters, and a high endurance cutter, he added.
Navy chief Vice Admiral Ceasar Taccad vowed to defend the country’s territory.
“Today, the enemy stands at our doorstep and we can no longer over-exaggerate the urgency of the threat against our maritime interests and possibly our territorial integrity,” he said. AP