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US-wanted Al-Shabab leader Zakariya Ismail Ahmed Hersi has surrendered to government and African Union forces in Somalia.

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A highly sought after al-Shabab leader with a $3m bounty on his head has surrendered to government and African Union forces, a Somali intelligence officer has said.

Zakariya Ismail Ahmed Hersi surrendered to Somali police in the Gedo region where Somalia borders Kenya and Ethiopia, the officer said.

“Zakariya Ahmed was a very senior person who worked with Godane,” said regional military official Jama Muse, referring to former Shebab leader Ahmed Abdi Godane, who was killed by a US air strike in September.

“He was in charge of intelligence and finances. He was one of the senior al-Shabab commanders who the Americans put a lot of money on their head,” he added.

Another Somali military official, Mohamed Osmail, said the militant was hiding in a house in a border town, and made contact with government officials in order to hand himself in.

Another intelligence source said the surrender was believed to have been motivated by a series of recent bloody splits and purges within the group, with Godane having ruthlessly eliminated many of his rivals and his successor, Ahmad Umar Abu Ubaidah, continuing to maintain strict internal security.

Hersi was one of eight top al-Shabab officials whom the Obama administration offered a total $33m in rewards for information leading to their capture in 2012.

Despite suffering major losses such as losing major cities, al-Shabab remains a threat in Somalia and Kenya.

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