|Join Our Mailing List|
Early Tuesday Morning
After heavy fighting between the al-Qaeda linked Somali insurgent group al-Shabaab, and moderate Islamists militia loyal to Ahlu Sunnah Wal Jamaa (ASWJ), the town of Dhusamareb in Galgadud is now under al-Shabaab's control. ASWJ fighters were forced out of the town in the early hours of Tuesday.
Latest reports from residents in Dhusamareb indicate that al-Shabaab fighters are within the town while ASWJ fighters have retreated to the outskirts.
Mohamed Abdi is a local journalist based in Dhusamreb who spoke to Somalia Report.
"Around the break of dawn, we woke up to the sounds of gunfire and artillery. Most of the residents fled from the town after the fighting begun. ASWJ fighters pulled out of the town," he said.
According to residents, the battle is not yet over on the outskirts of the town where ASWJ are regrouping to launch a counter attack.
"The situation is tense and there is a lot of confusion following the heavy battle," said Faysal Moomin, a resident of Dhusamareb.
He added that al-Shabaab have already hunted down several people whom they accused of links to ASWJ. Other sources claim that al-shabaab fighters have looted business centers and local organizations after seizing the strategic town.
Al-Shabaab have settled in key bases within the district including the police station and other ASWJ administration offices.
Speaking to a pro-al-Shabaab radio station, Abdiaziz Abu Muscab, the military spokesman of the group linked to al-Qaida indicated that they killed five ASWJ fighters and injured an unidentified number during the fighting.
“We have killed five of Ahlu Sunna Wal Jamaa and seized four battle vehicles with military equipment. We are still in the district and will call all Dhusamareb residents to remind them of the importance of Islamic Sharia,” the spokesman said.
He added that al-Shabaab will secure the town and defend its strategic location in Galgadud.
No independent sources have confirmed these claims and ASWJ remains silently preoccupied. Officials in Guriel District stated that they shall repel al-Shabaab from the town and a counter attack is under way.
This offensive comes after ASWJ vowed to expel al-Shabaab remnants in the region's El Bur and other districts. Dhusamareb is the capital of Galgadud region and has been subject to repetitive attacks involving al-Shabaab and ASWJ in their constant feuds for control of the area.
Dhusamareb once harboured senior al-Shabaab leader Adan Hashi Ayro who was killed in a US air strike early 2008. The town was seized from al-Shabaab in December 2008 by ASWJ. In April 2011 it was retaken by al-Shabaab militants from ASWJ and their Transitional Federal Government (TFG) allies. An ensuing siege and takeover by ASWJ followed in early October 2011. The town has been under ASWJ's precarious control since but has been subjected to armed attempts at retake by al-Shabaab.
UPDATE: ASWJ Recapture Dhusamareb
ASWJ militants have recaptured Dhusamareb town according to ASWJ officials and residents.
“After al-Shabaab fighters seized the town earlier today, ASWJ fighters got support from troops in nearby districts and launched a counter attack. They were able to regain control of the town and district after fighting al-shabaab on the outskirts of the town,” said Jamal Ma’lin Ahmed, a resident of Dhusamareeb.
He added that shops are re-opening and things going back to normal now.
ASWJ officials spoke to Somalia Report after they recaptured the city. Osman Issa Nour (Taar) the ASWJ chairman of Guriel district said, “We were in Guriel when we heard that militants had attacked and taken control of Dhusamareb. We then forcefully expelled al-Shabaab fighters from the city after hours of fighting. We confronted them outside the city.”
ASWJ officials claimed they had killed an unusually high number of al-Shabaab fighters in the counter attack.
“We are now in Dhusamareb. We killed 48 al-Shabaab fighters and seized their military vehicles. We lost eight soldiers in the battle and are looking for other casualties,” Osman Isaa said.
An al-Shabaab official, Sheikh Abdiaziz Abu Muscab spoke to pro-al-Shabaab media claiming that the Mujahideen had in their brief reign, killed 15 ASWJ fighters and seized military vehicles and weapons.
Currently, the situation in the city is calm. ASWJ troops are settling back into their locations including the police station and administration offices.