A senior leader of the al-Shabab armed jihadist group in Somalia surrendered to government forces amid an ongoing military offensive against the group in the country’s southwest region. Somali National Army (SNA) officials told the state-owned Radio Mogadishu that the senior commander, who has been coordinating attacks in Baidoa town and its environs for the past five years, defected after reaching out to the SNA. He is not the first to do so; several al-Shabab leaders have recently surrendered in the southern and central regions.
The SNA offensive comes in response to deadly attacks by al-Shabab targeting government officials and electoral delegates that have marred the ongoing national elections. Last Wednesday, the jihadist group carried out an attack in the capital, Mogadishu, and in the regional presidential palace in the central town of Beledweyne, that killed more than 50 people and wounded over 100 others.