Somalia's General Farah killed in al-Shabab ambush

image captionAl-Shabab has been under pressure from African Union and government troops

A top Somali military commander has been killed in an ambush - the first general to be killed by the Islamists.

Mohamed Ibrahim Farah, nicknamed "Gordon", was killed near Merca, a strategic town captured from the al-Shabab militants in August.

The Somali government army and African Union troops have been battling the al-Qaeda-aligned group for several years.

Al-Shabab has withdrawn from several key towns in recent months, but still controls much of the countryside.

The governor of the Lower Shabelle region in southern Somalia said General Farah was killed along with four other soldiers in an ambush on Sunday.

Al-Shabab still manages to stage attacks in areas it has left, including in the capital, Mogadishu.

The hotel of the new UN-backed President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud was targeted by suicide bombers, killing eight people, the day after his election by MPs last month.

Meanwhile, a journalist who was attacked by gunmen last weekend has died of his wounds - bringing the number of reporters assassinated this year across Somalia to 17.

Mohamed Mohamud Turyare, who worked for the private radio station Shabelle, was shot as he walked home on Saturday 20 October.

Al-Shabab has claimed responsibility for killing more than 10 journalists this year. One of them was beheaded in Mogadishu.

Since the overthrow of President Siad Barre in 1991, Somalia has seen clan-based warlords, Islamist militants and its neighbours all battling for control of the country.

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