Mogadishu (HAN) April 23, 2008- The Ethiopian army and Somali Security forces official said, the Al-shabab commander blamed for the attack on the Ethiopian troops in Balidogle (The Battle of Somalia Airport) last month and was the deadliest since both forces entered Mogadishu in 2006 has been killed in a shootout with security forces in Southern Somalia.
A senior Somali intelligence official said Ethiopian Intelligence forces killed Sheikh Mukhtar, also known as Abuu Zubayr, at a roadblock near the city of Jawhar. The Ethiopian military officials in Mogadishu confirmed Mukhtar’s death in a shootout and said Somali authorities had his body. The Somali Intelligence officials spoke to The HAN & Geeska Afrika Online on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.
The Ethiopian army and Somali officials have described Sheikh Mukhtar, who also went by the name Abu-Zubayr, as one of the Amiirs of Al-Shabab militants who ambushed a group of Ethiopian commandos in March 2008 and shot down an Ethiopian military helicopter in 2007. A number of Ethiopian special forces died on the military helicopter shot down over Mogadishu area last year.
The commander’s death, which was first reported by HAN & Geeska Afrika Online News on Monady, could help relations between Somali’s new TNG government and Addis Ababa, which wants it to keep up the pressure on Al-Shabab, Al-itihad and al-Qaida operatives inside Somalia, mainly Southern Somalia.
Ethiopia’s involvement in Somalia has reached what the US military in Djibouti would call “a turning point”. With more and more information coming to light about the Ethiopian army turning detainees over to the US secret agents towards Cuba terror center. "It is becoming clear that Ethiopia is operating in violation of international law," Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmad Geeska Afrika Online by phone. He added that "Ethiopian troops must be removed from Somalia, as events continue to bear witness to the fact that it is a policy that is failing in the goal of rebuilding Somali TNG as a viable Government and nation-state".
The new Somali government led by Nur Ade is offering talks to some Islamic opposition groups in hope of persuading them to abandon insurgency. Ethiopian officials view the shift of emphasis away from military operations with some skepticism.