Islamist militant group al-Shabab, which controls much of Somalia, has released a joint video with al-Qaeda, announcing the two groups have merged.
Al-Shabab leader Ahmed Abdi Godane, known as Mukhtar Abu Zubair, said he “pledged obedience” to al-Qaeda head Ayman al-Zawahiri.
The two groups have long worked together and foreigners are known to fight alongside Somali militants.
The announcement comes as al-Shabab is under pressure on several fronts.
Africa Union troops supporting the forces of the UN-backed government have taken control of the capital, Mogadishu, while both Kenya and Ethiopia have sent forces into Somalia to push back the Islamists.
Al-Shabab, however, still controls many southern and central areas of the country.
However, correspondents say al-Shabab’s policy of banning many foreign aid agencies from areas it controls during the region’s worst drought in 60 years has lost the group some of its popular support.
The United Nations says that although the famine in Somalia is officially over, a third of the population still needs urgent feeding. Read more…