U.S. forces targeted a leader of the al Shabaab militant group in an operation in southern Somalia this week, the Pentagon said on Friday, a day after villagers reported a drone strike killed three members of the al Qaeda-affiliated organization.

U.S. officials declined to name the target of the strike, but CBS News and other U.S. and African media said it was aimed at Adnan Garaar, a top al Shabaab official suspected of masterminding the 2013 attack on Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, killing 67.

The wide reporting of Garaar as the target prompted the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi to caution U.S. citizens to be aware of their safety given the news accounts of the drone strike.

CBS cited unnamed U.S. officials as confirming Garaar was killed in the strike, which it said was carried out by a Predator drone using Hellfire missiles. U.S. defense officials speaking on the record declined to identify the target of the operation or give details, including whether he had been killed.

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