MOGADISHU, May 30 (Xinhua) -- Unknown gunmen overnight killed a senior insurgent commander who recently defected from the Somali government side to join the armed opposition groups in the war-wrecked Somalia, insurgent officials said.
Abelkadir Hassan Abu Qatatow was shot dead by men armed with pistols as he walked in a street in the south of Mogadishu, stronghold of the insurgent fighters.
Qatatow, who belonged to the pro-government Islamist faction, the Islamic Courts Union (ICU), last week defected to the armed opposition group of Hezbul Islam (Islamic Party) led by the radical Islamist leader, Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys.
"We are deeply saddened by the brutal killing of the commander who was played major part in the struggle to liberate the country and defeat its enemy," Sheikh Hassan Mahdi, spokesman for Hezbul Islam, told reporters.
Abdiresak Qaylow, spokesman for the pro-government ICU faction, described killing of the commander as barbaric, accusing the armed Islamist opposition groups of killing the commander.
The death of Qatatow comes as Somali government forces and insurgent fighters have been battling for the control of the Somali capital Mogadishu. Hundreds have either been killed or injured in the clashes while tens of thousands have fled their homes to seek refuge in camps for the internally displaced people (IDP) on the outskirts of Mogadishu.
Insurgent forces control much of south and center of Somalia including nearly two-thirds of Mogadishu while Somali government forces backed by nearly 4,300 peacekeepers control parts of the capital and the central Somali town of Beledweyn.
Somalia, a country of nine million, has been immersed in civil conflict since the overthrow of the late ruler Mohamed Siyad Barre in 1991.