Former al-Shabaab vice head surrenders to Somali gov't

Roobow Abu Mansur

Roobow Abu Mansur

A top leader of Somalia's Al-Qaida-affiliated Al-Shabaab group has surrendered to government forces in Hudur, the regional capital of Bakol province on Sunday, Garowe Online reports.

Former Somali insurgent leader Mukhtar Robow Abu Mansur has defected to the government, a military official said on Sunday, severing ties with Islamist group al Shabab two months after the USA quietly removed a $5 million reward for his capture.

"Abu Mansoor who has been at Abal settlement (close to Hudur town) has decided today, Sunday, to surrender to the pro-government forces", said Shine Moalim Nurow, special police commander for Interim South West Administration (ISWA).

Robow and al-Shabab parted ways in 2013, and since then he had been laying low in the jungles with his forces.

A major Al Shabaab attack on his base at Abal last Wednesday caused the death of at least 20 combatants from both sides.

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Abu Mansor and militias loyal to him have recently been facing attacks from Al-Shabaab fighters in his hideout at Abal settlement. It was not immediately clear if the timing of the defection was linked. "He will be flown to Mogadishu soon", Colonel Nur Mohamed, a Somali military officer, said. But residents and an analyst were doubtful over the impact of the move.

Al-Shabab past year was named the deadliest armed group in Africa, with more than 4,200 people killed in 2016, according to the Washington, DC-based Africa Center for Strategic Studies.

Al-Shabab also faces a new military push from the USA after President Donald Trump approved expanded operations, including air strikes.

The militants, who are allied with Al Qaeda, were driven out of the capital Mogadishu in 2011.

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