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Saturday, December 27, 2014

Somalia : Top al-Shabab militant, Zakariya Ahmed Ismail Hersi, surrenders

(Medeshi)- A top al-Shabab militant, Zakariya Ahmed Ismail Hersi, has given himself up, Somali officials say.
Mr Hersi, a leading figure in the militant group's intelligence wing, surrendered to police in the Gedo region, local media report.

In June 2012, the US state department offered $3m (£1.9m, 2.5m euros) for information leading to his capture.

It comes three months after al-Shabab leader Ahmed Abdi Godane was killed in a US air strike.

A Somali intelligence officer, quoted by the Associated Press news agency, suggested Mr Hersi may have surrendered because of a dispute with al-Shabab members loyal to the former leader.

BBC Africa editor Mary Harper says Somali intelligence had received a tip off that he was hiding in a town close to the border with Kenya.

He fell out with Godane last year and has been on the run ever since but he is still a powerful figure, she adds.

Ahmad Umar was named the new leader of al-Shabab, days after Godane's killing last September.

The US has supported the African Union (AU) force that has driven al-Shabab out of the capital Mogadishu and other towns since 2011.

The al-Qaeda-linked fighters want to overthrow the UN-backed Somali government and frequently attack government targets as well as neighbouring countries that provide troops to the AU force.

Three members of the AU force and a civilian contractor were killed in an al-Shabab attack on its headquarters in the capital Mogadishu on Thursday.