Somalia is on alert for retaliatory attacks by the Islamist group al-Shabab, officials say, after the group’s leader Ahmed Abdi Godane, 37, was killed in a US air strike.
National Security Minister Kalif Ahmed Ereg said the country faced “desperate attacks” on government facilities.
The US confirmed the death of Godane in air strikes on Monday night that hit a vehicle and camp south of Mogadishu.
Al-Shabab has not named a successor or even acknowledged Godane’s death.
Mr Ereg told reporters: “Security agencies have obtained information indicating that al-Shabab is now planning to carry out desperate attacks against medical facilities, education centres and other government facilities.”
Mr Ereg “congratulated the Somali people” on Godane’s death, adding: “The security forces are ready to counter their attacks and we call on people to help the security forces in standing against violent acts.”
Ahmed Abdi Godane:
- US put $7m (£4m) bounty on his head in 2012
- Pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda in 2009
- Became al-Shabab’s top commander after US air strike killed his predecessor Aden Hashi Ayro in 2008
- Sentenced to death in absentia for 2008 attack in Somaliland’s capital, Hargeisa
- Studied in Sudan and Pakistan, where he became radicalised
- Said to have fought in Afghanistan
- Was reputed to be a good orator and poet
- Also known as Mukhtar Abu Zubair
Ahmed Abdi Godane profile
Somalia’s President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud issued a statement on Friday urging militants to embrace peace after the death of their leader.
He announced a 45-day amnesty for militants who were willing to renounce the group.
Godane was one of the US state department’s most wanted men.
It had placed a bounty of $7m (£4.2m) on his head.
There are few indications of who may be named to replace Godane.
The US has supported the African Union (AU) force that has driven al-Shabab out of the capital Mogadishu and other towns since 2011.
The al-Qaeda-linked fighters want to overthrow the UN-backed Somali government and frequently attack government targets as well as neighbouring countries that provide troops to the AU force.
The al-Shabab leader had publicly claimed the group’s responsibility for the deadly Westgate shopping centre attack in Kenya in September last year.