Somalia refuses to hand over Shabaab leader to Kenya
Somalia has rejected a Kenyan request to hand over detained Al-Shabaab top leader Zakariya Hersi.
“Kenya army officers came to El Wak today. They asked the Somali army to have the Al-Shabaab commander for interrogation but this could not be possible,” El Wak District Commissioner Ibrahim Adan told Anadolu Agency in a phone interview on Sunday.
“The Somali army declined [the request],” he said.
El Wak is a town on the border with Kenya, located less than 70km from Mandera County where 64 Kenyans were recently killed in an attack claimed by AlShabaab.
Kenya believes that an Al-Shabaab brigade responsible for many of the killings inside the East African country is based in El Wak district of Gedo region.
Kenyan authorities declined to comment on the issue. Hersi is Al-Shabaab’s intelligence chief and was on Washington’s wanted list with a $3 million bounty on his head. He was reportedly arrested from his hideout near El Wak after a tip-off to the regional authorities.”The Al-Shabaab commander is under armed guard in El Wak,” Adan told AA. “We are waiting for Somalia government and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) officers to arrive from Mogadishu and know what next,” he added.
State radio website Radio Muqdisho also reported Hersi’s surrender, describing him as “the general secretary of al Shabaab’s finance (department)”. It did not give reasons for his surrender. But a senior member of al Shabaab’s media team said Hersi left the group two years ago.
“The government exaggerates the story just to cover the recent attack at the AU base,” the al Shabaab official told Reuters by phone, referring to this week’s attack on an African Union base in the capital Mogadishu.”(Hersi) cannot have impact on al Shabaab because he is not a member.”The government offered an amnesty to al Shabaab members in September, but key leaders have not taken up the offer.
Somalia has remained in the grip of on-again, off-again violence since the outbreak of civil war in 1991. Earlier this year, fractious Somalia appeared to inch closer to stability after government troops and African Union forces – deployed in the country since 2007 – drove Al-Shabaab from most of its strongholds.