UPDATE 1-Four foreign militants killed in Somalia missile strike

Fri Feb 24, 2012 1:39pm GMT

* Intelligence officer says Egyptian, Kenyans killed

* Residents heard warplanes overhead before explosion

* Rebels seized in Mogadishu house raids (Recasts, adds new quotes, colour)

By Abdi Sheikh

MOGADISHU, Feb 24 (Reuters) - A missile strike killed four foreign Islamist militants south of Somalia's capital on Friday, an intelligence official said, a day after the country's prime minister called for foreign air strikes against the al Shabaab rebel group.

Residents reported hearing a large explosion which targeted a car in the early hours of the morning in an area known as 'Kilometre 60', between Mogadishu and the port town of Marka in the insurgent-controlled Lower Shabelle region.

"A very senior Egyptian was killed. Three Kenyans and a Somali also died," a senior intelligence officer who declined to be named told Reuters.

The al Qaeda-backed militants confirmed a missile strike in Kilometre 60 on a website but said it was not clear if the dead were its fighters or civilians.

Somalis in central and southern Somalia regularly report drones and warplanes flying overhead. While the United States never comments officially on drone strikes in Somalia, Washington has authorised covert operations in the Horn of Africa nation in the past.   Continued...

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