Kenya, June 12, 2010 – A Somali militant group allied with the country's
weak U.N.-backed transitional federal government says it has killed and
captured fighters from the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabaab militia during
clashes in central Somalia.
Analysts say the casualties, reportedly inflicted by the Sufi group
Ahlu-Sunna Wal-Jamma'a, could signal the start of a series of
significant clashes in the region.
Ahlu-Sunna Wal-Jamma'a spokesman Sheikh Abdullahi Sheikh Abu Yusuf said
the group had attacked al-Shabaab fighters in and around the central
town of Dhusamareb.
He said in this operation, four al-Shabaab militia troops were killed,
and one captured. He said his group reports no casualties.
Located on a major highway linking Somalia's capital Mogadishu with the
northern autonomous region of Puntland, Dhusamareb is seen as a
strategically important town in the battle for central Somalia.
In January, al Shabaab said it had retreated from Dhusamareb just days
after its forces had seized control of the town. Ahlu-Sunna has been
attacking al-Shabaab positions since taking up arms against the group in
In March, Ahlu-Sunna signed an agreement with Somalia's transitional
federal government to provide support in the fight against al-Shabaab in
return for senior positions within the government.
Analysts say two planes carrying weapons and ammunitions to be used
against al-Shabaab were delivered to Ahlu-Sunna in Dhusarmareb last
Earlier this week, locals told the United Nations humanitarian news
service IRIN fresh fighting had broken out between the two sides.
Eyewitnesses estimated around 5,000 families, or 30,000 people, had fled
from Dhusarmareb and surrounding towns.
Experts say it could signal the start of increased clashes across
central Somalia. International Crisis Group Horn of Africa Director E.J
Hogendooen says both sides are mustering fighters in the region.
"All indications, at least from the indications we've received, is that
al-Shabaab has also moved some of its forces into central Somalia so
this may be the start of a fairly significant series of clashes between
Alhu Sunna and al-Shabaab," Hogendooen said.
Alhu-Sunna Wal-Jamma'a's public perception in Somalia has been marred by
its links to Ethiopia, the country's traditional enemy. Addis Ababa
reportedly helped the group negotiate a deal with the Somali government.
Source: VOANews, June 10, 2010