Page last updated at 16:44 GMT, Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Somali forces 'kill al-Qaeda man'

Al-Shabab militants, 01/01
Al-Shabab wants its hard-line brand of Sharia introduced all over the country

Somali government forces have killed a senior Jordanian al-Qaeda fighter, national security minister Abdullahi Mohamed Ali has told the BBC.

State media named the suspect as Amar Ibrahim and said he was also a member of the al-Shabab group, which recently vowed to join al-Qaeda's global jihad.

Officials said he had replaced a militant in the al-Qaeda hierarchy who had been killed by the US in September.

Al-Shabab, which controls much of southern Somalia, denied the claims.

Mr Ali confirmed to the BBC that an al-Qaeda fighter had been killed, but did not name him and said the government "would provide evidence later".

State media said Ibrahim had replaced Kenyan-born terrorism suspect Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan as al-Qaeda's man in Somalia.

US agents had hunted Nabhan for years over attacks on a hotel and an Israeli airliner in Kenya in 2002, before killing him in a helicopter raid last September.

The US long accused al-Shabab of being al-Qaeda's proxy in the region, but al-Shabab had denied the links until last month when it released a statement promising to "combine" its local jihad with al-Qaeda's global fight.

Somalia has been wracked by violence for much of the past 20 years. It has not had a functioning central government since 1991.

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