Somalia says top Al Shabab leader Abdullahi Nadir killed in joint military operation

Conflict between Al Qaeda-linked extremist group and the government has killed thousands of people since 2006

A soldier holds position as the damage is assessed after Islamist group al Shabaab hit a European Union armoured convoy in Mogadishu, Somalia October 1, 2018. REUTERS/Feisal Omar
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A top leader of Al Shabab militant group, Abdullahi Nadir, was killed during a joint military operation in Somalia carried out at the weekend.

Somalia's Ministry of Information said Nadir was killed in Haramka village, in the Middle Juba region, on Saturday during the operation by the Somali National Army and unnamed international security partners.

The US had placed a $3 million bounty on Nadir, who the Somali government described as “one of the most important members of Al Shabab”.

Nadir was seen as close to the former leader of Al Shabab, Ahmed Abdi Godane, who was killed in a US air strike in 2014, and to current leader Ahmed Diriye. The government said he was next in line to lead the group.

“His death is a thorn removed from the Somali nation, and the Somali people will be relieved from his misguidance and horrific acts,” the information ministry said.

Scores of Al Shabab militants were also killed at the weekend while attempting to blow up a well in Tarashanta village, between Baladwayne and Halgan in Hiran province, according to residents.

Conflict between the government and Al Qaeda-linked Al Shabab, which wants to enforce a strict interpretation of Sharia, or Islamic law, has killed thousands of people since 2006.

Somali security forces say they have made gains on the battlefield in recent weeks while fighting alongside local self-defence groups.

However, Al Shabab has continued to conduct deadly raids over the past few weeks, burning houses, destroying wells and beheading civilians in other parts of central and southern Somalia, residents have said.

The attacks and the group's demands for tax payments despite a severe drought have pushed some residents to take up arms against Al Shabab.

The militants were driven out of the capital, Mogadishu, in 2011. However, they still control parts of countryside and retain the ability to launch deadly strikes, often attacking hotels and restaurants.

On Friday, Al Shabab fighters killed Mogadishu's head of police, his two bodyguards and a journalist in a bombing north of the capital.

The group's deadliest attack was in October 2017 when a lorry packed with explosives blew up in Mogadishu, killing 512 people.

Updated: October 03, 2022, 9:43 AM