An air strike killed the deputy leader of the Islamic State group in Somalia s semi-autonomous Puntland region, alongside another militant, a local security official said on Sunday.
A witness said a 4x4 vehicle was hit by several missiles 3 km (2 miles) outside the village of Xiriiro in the Qandala hills at 1 p.m. (1000 GMT) on Sunday.
"Today s air strike killed Abdihakim Dhuqub, the deputy leader of Islamic State," Puntland s security minister, Abdisamad Mohamed Galan, told Reuters.
According to the United Nations, Dhuqub helped set up the first cell of al-Ittihad al-Islamiya (AIAI), an ideological predecessor to al Shabaab, a militant group fighting the Somali national government for over a decade.
He later defected to Islamic State group.
Somalia has been riven by civil war and Islamist militancy - though more in the south than in the north where Puntland is - since 1991 when clan warlords overthrew a dictator before turning on each other.
"Several missiles hit a Suzuki car. Then helicopters hovered over the scene," Mohamed Iid, a resident of Xiriiro, told Reuters. "It was a deafening air strike. We reached the scene after the helicopters left. The car completely melted."
Matt Bryden, head of the Nairobi-based think tank Sahan Research, downplayed the significance of the killing because IS in Somalia is believed to only have a comparatively small force of 150-200 soldiers.
"(If) you take into account that they ve never done a large terror attack in several years of operation, you basically have a gang stuck out in the desert," he told Reuters by telephone.
"Just because they are called ISIS, it doesn t make them an existential threat."