MOGADISHU, Somalia — A leader of Somali Islamist group al-Shabab, who has a $3 million U.S. bounty on his head, has surrendered, a Somali government official and local media said Saturday, although the militants said he had long left their organization.
Zakariya Ismail Ahmed Hersi was one of seven al-Shabab leaders for whom the U.S. State Department in 2012 offered a total of $33 million in reward money for information that led to their capture.
If true, Mr. Hersi’s surrender would be the second major blow to al-Shabab’s leadership in just a few months. In September, the group’s main leader, Ahmed Abdi Godane, was killed by a U.S. drone strike.
Papal assailant’s visit
VATICAN CITY — The man who tried to kill former Pope John Paul II 33 years ago showed up at the Vatican on Saturday to put white roses on his tomb and said he wanted to meet Pope Francis.
Mehmet Ali Agca, a Turk, left John Paul critically injured after firing several shots in the failed assassination attempt in St. Peter’s Square on May 13, 1981.
The former pope forgave Agca, once a member of a Turkish far right group known as the Grey Wolves, and went to meet him in 1983 in the Rome prison where he had been sentenced to life imprisonment for the attack.
Swedish political deal
STOCKHOLM — Sweden’s three-month-old minority center-left government announced a deal with the opposition on Saturday to sideline the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats, who hold the balance of power in parliament, and avert a fresh election.
Sweden’s normally stable politics were thrown into turmoil in December when Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said he planned to return to the polls after his budget was voted down by the center-right opposition and the Sweden Democrats.
Minority Muslim slain
ISLAMABAD — Gunmen in eastern Pakistan shot dead a member of the Ahmadi religious minority Saturday, an Ahmadi spokesman said, five days after a Muslim leader denounced Ahmadis on a popular Pakistani television talk show.
Luqman Ahmad Shehzad is the 11th person killed for being Ahmadi in Pakistan this year. Ahmadis consider themselves Muslim but believe that a prophet came after the Prophet Muhammad, who in Islam is revered as the last of God’s messengers.
Japan stimulus pushed
TOKYO — Japan’s government on Saturday approved stimulus spending worth $29 billion that is aimed at helping the country’s lagging regions and households with subsidies, merchandise vouchers and other steps, but analysts are skeptical about how much it can spur growth.
The package, worth $29.12 billion was unveiled two weeks after a massive election victory by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling coalition gave him a fresh mandate to push through his “Abenomics” stimulus policies.
Also in the world …
President Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus dismissed his prime minister and the head of the country’s central bank Saturday as part of a sweeping and unexpected government reorganization. … Germany plans to expand the network of charging stations for electric cars across the country to help boost lackluster demand, a Transport Ministry paper seen by Reuters showed.