Al-Shabab fighters say they have killed the leader of Ahlu Sunna rival group along with 18 of his guards in Gedo region of south Somalia.
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Al-Shabab spokesman Sheikh Abdi Aziz Abu Muzab said in a press conference on Thursday that they killed Ahlu Sunna leader Sheikh Hassan Sheikh Qoryoley and 18 of his special guards, a Press TV correspondent reported on Friday.
Ahlu Sunna has confirmed the news, vowing to kill top al-Shabab fighters in retaliation for the death of Sheikh Qoryoley.
Ahlu Sunna came to prominence in 2008 when they took up arms to fight al-Shabab fighters.
Since2008, Ahlu Sunna has gained control of five regions in the country, including Gedo region.
In 2010, the militia group signed an agreement with the government in which they were officially granted the control of five ministries as well as some diplomatic and security posts in the government. In return they have vowed to fight against al-Shabab group.
Al-Shabab was formerly the military wing of the deposed Islamic Court Union (ICU) that controlled much of central and southern Somalia in late 2006.
The Somali government, backed by African Union forces, has recently launched an offensive to flush out al-Shabab group especially in parts of the capital, Mogadishu, which are under the control of the militia.
However, the lack of coordination among government forces, who are barely trained and seldom get paid, has for long barred the promise of a full-scale war against opposition fighters.