Reuters International

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. air strike last week killed a senior leader of the al Qaeda-linked militant group al Shabaab in Somalia, the Pentagon said on Monday.

Hassan Ali Dhoore was killed in a U.S. air strike targeting him on March 31, Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said. Dhoore was a member of al Shabaab's security and intelligence wing, and was involved in the planning of high-profile attacks, Cook said.

Dhoore planned and oversaw attacks resulting in the deaths of at least three Americans, Cook said.

The Pentagon disclosed the air strike last week but was still assessing then whether Dhoore had been killed.

The strike came weeks after the United States targeted an al Shabaab training camp in Somalia in an air strike that the Pentagon says killed more than 150 fighters.

Al Shabaab was pushed out of Mogadishu by African Union peacekeeping forces in 2011 but has remained a potent antagonist in Somalia, launching frequent attacks in its bid to overthrow the Western-backed government.

The group, whose name means "The Youth," seeks to impose its strict version of sharia law in Somalia, where it frequently unleashes attacks targeting security and government targets, as well as hotels and restaurants in the capital.

Al Shabaab has also been behind deadly attacks in Kenya and Uganda, which both contribute troops to an African Union peacekeeping force in Somalia.

(Reporting by Yeganeh Torbati; Editing by James Dalgleish)

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