30 April 2009

Somalia: Al Shabaab Militant Gunned Down in Mogadishu

A commander of Islamist hardliners faction Al Shabaab was shot and killed in the Somali capital Mogadishu Thursday morning, Radio Garowe reports.

The dead militant, identified only as Sheikh Muktar, was killed while sitting in front of an electric shop he owned inside Bakara Market, witnesses said.

"Three masked men shot the victim several times in the head and escaped," said a witness who did not want to be named.

The "killing looked to be organized" and everyone ran away, the witness added.

A source who knew the victim well said he was closely associated with Muktar Robow "Abu Mansur," the spokesman for Al Shabaab, which is on the U.S. government list of international terrorist organizations.

Like Abu Mansur, the Al Shabaab commander who was gunned down in Mogadishu today hailed from Bay and Bakool regions.

No group has claimed responsibility for the killing, but Al Shabaab has been accused of targeting and assassinating Somali government officials and Islamic Courts Union militia commanders in recent weeks.

Islamist hardliners like Al Shabaab and Hizbul Islam have rejected the Somali interim government, led by Islamist moderate Sheikh Sharif Ahmed as president, accusing the president of being a puppet of the West.

The Islamist rebels have demanded that African Union peacekeepers leave the country, but President Sheikh Sharif recently defended the presence of the peacekeepers. READ: President rules out African Union pullout

Somalia has been mired in armed conflict since the early 1990s and has defied numerous attempts to restore national order. President Sheikh Sharif's government is the 15th attempt to restore order in the war-torn Horn of Africa country.

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