NAIROBI, Kenya (AFP) — A Somali security official was killed in Mogadishu, witnesses said Sunday, as Islamists insurgents brought into their ranks an battle-tested Afghan-trained commander.
Gunmen shot dead Ahmed Hareed, a district official for Somali National Security Agency, overnight in the south of the lawless capital, the latest in a string of attacks targeting government employees and sympathisers.
"Hareed was targeted because of his services to the government, just like many other officials who have faced the same fate," said Mohamed Ibrahim, a friend.
On Sunday, four civilians were wounded in the capital's Suqaholaha district after Ethiopian troops opened fire in response to a grenade attack, a witness said.
"Of the four, one of them was seriously wounded," said resident Abdullahi Abdi Mohamud.
Daily insurgent-led attacks have convulsed Mogadishu since January when the government, backed by Ethiopian forces ousted an Islamist movement that controlled much of southern and central Somalia.
Last month, leaders of a new Islamist-dominated opposition group formed in neighbouring Eritrea vowed to drive off the Ethiopian troops, accusing them of occupying their country.
Islamist fighters (also known as Al-Shabab) named Sheikh Mukhtar Robow Ali "Abu-Mansoor", the former deputy commander of Islamic Courts Union (ICU) that was ousted from Somalia early this year, as their spokesman in Mogadishu.
A spokesman is usually a commander among Islamist fighters.
Abu-Mansoor, 38, who was trained in Afghanistan in 2001-2002, gained fame when he commanded militiamen against Ethiopian forces who had invaded the country's Gedo region in 1996, according to Islamist website heegan.net.
In addition, he also set up a militia training in Somalia in the 1990s at the height factional wars.
Somalia has lacked an effective government since the 1991 ouster of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre touched off a deadly clan-based power struggle that has defied numerous efforts to restore stability.