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Two Somalia’s Al Qaeda-linked chiefs killed by own forces

Two Somalia’s Al Qaeda-linked chiefs killed by own forces
Two top commanders of Somalia's Al Qaeda-linked al-Shabab group have been killed by their own fighters, following power struggle inside the extremist organization.

One of the dead, Ibrahim Haji Jama Mead, also known as Al-Afghani, tops Washington’s wanted list of terrorists. Last June, the State Department placed a US$5 million bounty for information leading to his location.

The other, Abul Hamid Hashi Olhayi was also a top commander of the extremist group and one of the founders of the terrorist group.

"We have informed their widows of their deaths, as they must now wear the clothes of mourning," Shabab spokesman Abdulaziz Abu Musab told AFP.

Al-Afghani’s sister confirmed the death but called it an execution while Shabab claimed that both men died in a battle.

"We deny reports that the men were killed after capture," Musab said. "The two men were killed in a shoot out after resisting arrest on court orders."

Al-Afghani - “The Afghan” - dubbed so for his activities in Afghanistan, held prominent positions in the Islamic extremist movement in Somalia occupying positions as first deputy leader of al-Shabab in charge of finance  and also as the head of al-Shabab's Kisimayo administration.

The man was believed to be representing Shabab’s hard-line faction that focuses on global jihad.  In the last few years, the insurgent movement has split into rival factions, based along clan lines and ideological differences.  It is believed that Al-Afghani challenged the command of top chief Ahmed Abdi Godane, also wanted by the US.

Security agents stand near the scene of a suicide bomb attack outside the United Nations compound in Somalia's capital Mogadishu, June 19, 2013 (Reuters / Feisal Omar)