Mohamud Dulyadeyn, the plotter behind the Garissa University attack
in April last year, and Maalim Daud, head of Al-Shabaab's intelligence hit squads, were killed by the Somali National Army and anti-terror partners.
"Dulyadeyn was killed with other 16 members from Al-Shabaab (on Tuesday night)," said Daud Aweis, the Somali government spokesman.
"Maalim Daud, (also known as Yusuf Haji), was killed two days ago by Somali forces in collaboration with allied forces. He was killed with two other Al-Shabaab members."
A U.S. military official said Thursday that U.S. forces supported a Somali counter-terror operation that "may have resulted in the death" of the mastermind behind the Garissa University attack.
"U.S. forces supported this Somali-led operation in an advise-and-assist role," Defense Department spokeswoman Lt. Col. Michelle L. Baldanza told CNN. "We are working with Somali officials to assess the results of the operation and will provide further details when appropriate."
Group suspected in Mogadishu hotel attack
Al-Shabaab gunmen set off an explosion and stormed a popular hotel in Somalia's capital Wednesday, killing at least 13 people and three attackers, a security official said.
A lengthy siege at Mogadishu's Ambassador Hotel ended early Thursday, said Somali security official Ahmed Barre.
One militant died in an initial car bomb attack, according to the National Intelligence and Security Agency.
Barre said the other two were killed by Somali special forces.
The group has terrorized African countries for years, and is known to use child soldiers
in its bloody attacks.
High-ranking member targeted
Meanwhile, Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook confirmed that in late May, U.S. forces carried out an airstrike in south-central Somalia targeting Abdullahi Haji Da'ud, a senior military commander for the sub-Saharan African terror group.
Da'ud was one of Al-Shabaab's most senior military planners and served as a principal coordinator of its militia attacks in Somalia, Kenya, and Uganda. He held several positions of authority within the terrorist organization over the years, including head of the Amniyat, Al-Shabaab's Security and Intelligence Branch.
"Da'ud has been responsible for the loss of many innocent lives through attacks he has planned and carried out," Cook said.
"We are confident that the removal from the terrorist network of this experienced Al-Shabaab commander with extensive operational experience will disrupt near-term attack planning, potentially saving many innocent lives."