WASHINGTON The clandestine American military campaign to combat Al Qaedas franchise in Yemen is expanding to fight the militancy in Somalia, according to a new dispatch in The New York Times. Citing American officials, the newspaper said the escalation of assaults followed what it called new evidence indicating that insurgents in the two countries are forging closer ties and possibly plotting attacks against the United States. An American military drone aircraft attacked several Somalis in the militant group the Shabab late last month, the officials said, killing at least one of its midlevel operatives and wounding others. The strike in Somalia marked the expansion of the pilotless war campaign to a sixth country. Armed Predator and Reaper drones already operate in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen and Libya, where they are controlled by the US military or the CIA. The Obama administrations increased focus on Somalia comes as the White House has unveiled a new strategy to battle Al Qaeda in the post-Osama bin Laden era, and as some American military and intelligence officials view Qaeda affiliates in Yemen and Somalia as a greater threat to the United States than the group of operatives in Pakistan who have been barraged with hundreds of drone strikes directed by the Central Intelligence Agency in recent years, the Times said The military drone strike in Somalia last month was the first American attack there since 2009, when helicopter-borne commandos killed Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, a senior leader of the group that carried out the 1998 attacks on the American Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Although it appears that no senior Somali militants were killed in last months drone strike, a Pentagon official said Friday that one of the militants who was wounded had been in contact with Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born radical cleric now hiding in Yemen.