A senior leader of Somali militant group al-Shabab has surrendered to Somali government forces in Marka town in the country’s southern region of Lower Shabelle, officials said on Sunday.

Ahmed Abdi Ali, commander of Unit 14 October Division of Somalia National Army (SNA), told journalists that Ibrahim Mohamed Bitow has surrendered to the Somali forces following intensified military operations on the insurgents in recent days.

“After 14 days long operations on al-Shabab in Marka town, Ibrahim contacted us and surrendered to the government forces,” the commander said.

He called on other remaining cells in al-Shabab extremists to imitate the action.

The former senior al-Shabab leader who served in the group for nine years said that he joined government forces at his willing.

“I was the commander of 100 fighters of al-Shabab who used to fight in Lower Shabelle region. I decided to quit al-Shabab and surrender to the government,” Ibrahim said.

Ibrahim who was accompanied by one of his special guards admitted they were misled into joining the terrorist group and asked Somali people to forgive them.

Meanwhile, the Somali security forces carried out a security operation on Friday night targeting al-Shabab base in Barire town in southern Somalia.

The Ministry of Information said the security forces overran the militants’ base and seized military equipment and killed several terrorists while one was arrested.

“SNA will continue to chase the runaway elements to demolish targets belonging to terrorist elements in the country,” said the ministry in a brief statement issued on Saturday evening.

The move comes after Mayor of Mogadishu Abdirahman Omar Osman also announced start of door-to-door security operation in the capital which are aimed at thwarting a series of al-Shabab terror attacks.

Osman said there will be searches in neighborhoods and vehicles as part of efforts to enhance security in the restive city. The mayor said his administration will provide buses and ambulances to those affected by the road closures.

The African Union Mission in Somalia has also intensified operations against al-Shabab militants in central and southern Somalia, conducting consecutive onslaughts to flush the militants out of these regions.