Mogadishu: A missile strike killed four Al-Qaeda allied Shebab rebels in war-torn southern Somalia, officials and witnesses said on Friday.
"An Al-Qaeda commander was targeted in Lower Shabelle on Friday morning; a missile struck and destroyed his vehicle, killing him and several colleagues," said a Somali government official on condition of anonymity.

The missile strike 60 kilometres south of the Somali capital Mogadishu -- an area known as K60 -- was confirmed by local residents.

Residents said an aircraft fired a missile at a Land Cruiser with four passengers, reportedly including foreigners fighting with the Shebab.

Britain's security think tank, the Royal United Services Institution, estimates the total number of foreign fighters within the Shebab to be around 200.

"There was a missile strike near K60 this morning, the missile targeted a vehicle belonging to Al-Shebab," said Mohamed Ali, a resident in a nearby village.

"We are not sure who exactly was the target but four people apparently died and the vehicle was destroyed."
"We heard a very loud explosion, and people are saying the target was a vehicle of the Al Shebab," said Ahmed Moalim, another resident.

In October, the United States acknowledged flying drones out of Ethiopia under a counter-terrorism campaign in the Horn of Africa but said the aircraft were unarmed and not carrying out raids.

Last month the hardline Shebab insurgents said a missile fired from a drone killed a British-Lebanese fighter, about 13 kilometres south of Mogadishu.

The strike comes a day after international powers meeting in London pledged renewed action against instability in Somalia and vowed action against anyone obstructing the country's peace process.

(Agencies)