A raid by Somalia’s military has killed a regional leader of the Takfiri al-Shabab militant group and three of his comrades in the west of the capital, Mogadishu.
Somalia’s information minister said in a statement on Sunday that Lower Shabelle regional leader Moalin Osman Abdi Badil and the three associates were killed on Friday in Bariire village.
There was no immediate confirmation of Badil’s death from the militant group.
The raid came a day after a US soldier was killed while supporting an operation by Somalia’s armed forces in the same troubled area.
The Pentagon called it the first US combat death in Somalia since 1993, when US forces pulled out of the African country in the wake of the “Black Hawk Down” incident, in which two helicopters were shot down and bodies of American soldiers were dragged through the streets.
In recent years, the US military has been supporting Somalia with a small number of special operations forces along with a number of airstrikes against al-Shabab, which has stepped up its deadly bombings in Mogadishu since the new president took office in February.
On April 6, President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed declared war on al-Shabab but at the same time offered the militants amnesty. He said the militants who gave up their arms within 60 days would receive jobs and education.
A government statement also on Sunday urged al-Shabab members to lay down their arms. “Leave al-Shabab now,” the statement read, adding, “Defect, as many of your brothers are beginning to do.”
Somalia’s armed forces are under growing pressure to take full responsibility for the security situation in the country as a multinational African Union force prepares to start withdrawing in 2018.
Somalia has been the scene of deadly clashes between government forces and al-Shabab militants since 2006.
The Takfiri militant group was forced out of the capital by African Union troops in 2011 but still controls parts of the countryside and carries out attacks against government, military and civilian targets.
The group is just one of the challenges facing the new Somali government, which is still struggling to expand its authority beyond the capital.