A top Somali Islamist official has led his group to join Al-Shabaab, Somalia's hard-line insurgent group.
Sheikh Hassan Abdullahi Al-Turki, Hizbul Islam's second in command who also leads Raskamboni Brigade which controls large parts of southern Somalia inked agreement with Al-Shabaab to merge the two forces.
The agreement was jointly signed by Al-Turki and Al-Shabaab's enigmatic leader Sheikh Muqtar Abdurahman Abu Zubeyr in Somalia's southern city of Baidoa.
"In this agreement, we intent to invite other groups in the Hizbul Islam and make our war, a global jihad," said Al Shabaab member Sheikh Fu'ad Mohammed Khalaf, who spoke at the ceremony.
He added that the unification of the two forces is to form an Islamic state in Somalia and also liberate the East African region from the 'Christian rulers'
Sheikh Mohammed Dulyaden, a Raskamboni commander, said his group is ready to take a crucial part in making sure that an Islamic state is realized in Somalia.
The remaining leaders of Hizbul Islam, which has been in loggerheads with Al-Shabaab are yet to comment about the latest development that will have huge impact on its rule in the southern Somalia.
The two groups have been involved in fierce fighting over the control of southern towns including Kismayo during the month of October 2009.