Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) scored a roaring hit against the al Shabaab, killing 51 militants, some of them top commanders, in an operation backed by bomber drones launched by the United States.

Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) spokesman Colonel David Obonyo said during the attack on Thursday, 11 technical vehicles were also destroyed following a major artillery bombardment against the insurgents in Jungal, 15 km northwest of Tarako and 40km West of Bardhere in Gedo region.

Kenyan Interior ministry spokesman Mwenda Njoka has tweeted that he was mistaken when saying a “mastermind” of that attack was among four al-Shabab commanders killed. Others were Ismael Jamat, Noor Dere (Talha clan), Qathar (Horsaame clan), Tohow and Heqmatiyar (Rer Hassan).

A Kenyan official has withdrawn his statement that one of those killed was the mastermind of April’s deadly attack on Garissa university.

Ahmed Bare, Somali military officer in nearby Elwaq town, said that Shabaab commanders have been leaving Bardhere, one of the few towns still held by the militants, ahead of a planned ground assault by Somali troops. “However, we will still get him”, Njoka said on his Twitter account last evening.

‘We heard two big explosions and the information we are getting indicates that vehicles were targeted close to a Shebab military base, ‘ said Abdiwahab Ali, an elder at a village close to the scene.

Thursday’s reported drone attack came just over a week before U.S. President Barack Obama is due in Kenya for his first visit to the country since he became president. Earlier in the week the US had issued an alert that al Shabaab could have been planning an attack during the Obama visit. As stated by witnesses, however, the attacks have mostly led to civilian deaths.