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Pentagon: death of al Shabaab leader in U.S. strike would be major blow

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Pentagon is assessing whether an airstrike on an encampment in Somalia killed al Shabaab leader Ahmed Abdi Godane, but if confirmed the militant's death would represent a "very significant" blow to the group, the Pentagon said on Tuesday.

Rear Admiral John Kirby told a Pentagon briefing that the U.S. special operations strike conducted on Monday involved manned and unmanned aircraft. Kirby said Hellfire missiles and laser-guided munitions were dropped on the camp in south-central Somalia, but he said it was too soon to say what the results of the strike had been.

Since taking charge in 2008, Godane has restyled the group as a global player in the al Qaeda franchise - a transformation that was highlighted when it killed at least 67 people in an attack on a Kenyan shopping mall last September.

(Reporting by Phil Stewart; Editing by Eric Beech)

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