The United States believes the presumed head of Al-Qaeda in East Africa, Fazul Abdullah Muhammad, is dead, US officials said Saturday.

‘Fazul's death removes one of the terrorist group's most experienced operational planners in East Africa and has almost certainly set back operations," a senior official from President Barack Obama's administration told this news agency in confirming the Al-Qaeda operative had been killed.

"We commend the good work by the TFG," the official added, referring to Fazul's killing by Somalia's Transitional Fevderal Government forces.

Another US official had earlier said there was "strong reason" to believe the 38-year-old was indeed dead.

Fazul is wanted for blowing up the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. He is thought to have planned the massive truck bombings in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam that killed 224 people in 1998 and has a $5 million bounty on his head.

Sources earlier indicated that the senior Al-Qaeda operative was among two men killed in Mogadishu on Wednesday.

"We have confirmed by DNA tests carried out with our partners that it definitely was Fazul Abdullah," said an official with Somalia's National Security Agency.

The incident happened on the northwestern outskirts of the Somali capital, according to a regional security source. The two men were driving in a pickup truck full of medicine, laptops and mobile phones. They apparently took a wrong turn while trying to reach a Shebab position and ended up in an area under transitional government control.

A Somali source close to the investigation said the man identified as Fazul Abdullah was in possession of a South African passport in the name of Daniel Robinson that gave his date of birth as 1971. The passport, issued April 13, 2009, indicated that its bearer left South Africa for Tanzania on March 19 and was granted a visa there. The Tanzanian visa was the only one in the passport.

The man was also in possession of $40,000 in cash, the same Somali source said. He appeared to have come from Lower Juba in southern Somalia where he was heading a group of foreign fighters under the name of "Abu-Abdirahman the Canadian."

The second man killed was a known Kenyan jihadist called Mohammed Dere, a Nairobi-based security source said, adding that the Kenyan intelligence services were checking the DNA of the two men