US commandos hit Islamists in Africa

US special forces have carried out two separate raids in Africa targeting senior Islamist militants, American officials say.

In Libya, US commandos captured an al-Qaeda leader accused of the 1998 bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

Anas al-Libi was reportedly seized in the capital Tripoli.

And a leader of the al-Shabab group was targeted in southern Somalia, but that raid appears to have failed.

The al-Shabab leader – who has not been identified – is suspected of involvement in last month’s attack in the Westgate shopping centre in Kenya’s capital Nairobi, which left at least 67 people dead.

$5m bounty

Anas al-Libi’s relatives and US officials said he had been seized in the Libyan capital early on Saturday.

He was parking outside his house when three vehicles encircled him, his car’s window was smashed and his gun was seized before he was taken away, his brother Nabih was quoted as saying by AP.

He added that Libi’s wife wife also saw the attack, describing the abductors as foreign-looking “commandos”.

The raid was conducted with the knowledge of the Libyan government, a US official was quoted as saying by CNN.

US officials later said that the suspect was no longer in Libya, without elaborating further.

The 49-year-old is believed to be one of the masterminds of the 1998 US embassy attacks, which killed more than 220 people in Kenya and Tanzania.

He has been indicted in New York’s court in connection with the attacks.

Libi – whose real name is Nazih Abdul-Hamed al-Ruqai- has been on the FBI’s most wanted list for more than a decade with a $5m (£3.1m) bounty on his head.

Al-Qaeda’s leadership has been consistently targeted since the killing of Osama Bin Laden by US special forces in 2011 in Pakistan.

‘White soldiers’

Meanwhile, the US defence department confirmed that special forces had carried out a seaborne in the southern coastal town of Barawe.

Pentagon spokesman George Little said the forces “were involved in a counter-terrorism operation against a known al-Shabab terrorist”. He declined to provide any further details.

Initial reports in the US media quoted unnamed US officials as saying that the suspect had been captured or killed by US Navy Seals in Somalia in the pre-dawn raid.

However, the officials later said that the Seals failed to find the intended target, who was not identified.

“The Barawe raid was planned a week and a half ago,” a US security official told the New York Times.

“It was prompted by the Westgate attack,” added the official, who was speaking on the condition of anonymity.

Al-Shabab earlier told the BBC that “white soldiers” had arrived by boat in Barawe and rebels had repulsed them, losing a fighter.

Local group commander Mohamed Abu Suleiman said the raid had failed and the group remained in control of Barawe.

Both Britain and Turkey deny al-Shabab claims that their forces were involved in the operation.

Barawe residents said say they were woken up by heavy fighting before dawn.

“Gunfire broke out for about 10-15 minutes,” an eyewitness told AFP news agency.

Al-Shabab has said it carried out the attack in the Westgate shopping centre in Nairobi on 21 September.