A team of Navy SEALs raided the house of a senior al-Shabab leader in Somalia today—a response to the group's deadly attack on a Nairobi shopping mall last month, according to US officials. Initial reports claimed the leader had been captured, but an official now says that he may have been killed—though it hasn't been confirmed, because the SEALs had to retreat, the New York Times reports. "The ... raid was planned a week and a half ago," says the security official of the classified operation. "It was prompted by the Westgate attack." A Somali government official confirms that the operation was "carried out by the American forces and the Somali government was pre-informed about the attack."
The raid took place before dawn in the southern seaside town of Barawe, where SEALs took out al-Qaeda leader Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan in 2009, notes the AP. The SEALs fired on the house, and witnesses say the gun battle lasted over an hour, the Times reports. A Barawe resident tells the AP that militants have now closed off the town, and are going door-to-door to find anyone who gave up intel to support the raid. "We woke up to find al-Shabab fighters had sealed off the area and their hospital is also inaccessible," he says. "The town is in a tense mood." (Read more Somalia stories.)