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“We didn't know that ASWJ had left, but we realized that they were out of the district when al-Shabab approached us. Most of us stayed in our homes and the town was empty when al-Shabaab came in. But a few hours later, people returned to normal life,” said Ahmed Qarey, a local resident.
Residents in Mahas told Somalia Report that ASWJ are not far from the area, adding they may return to Mahas and other towns soon. “They are now staying 11 kilometers from Mahas, and they can return back to the district any time to fight or other tactics. The al-Shabaab themselves seem ready to flee again if there was a battle,” said another Mahas resident, who requested anonymity.
Some people in Mahas told Somalia Report that al-Shabaab seemed to be investigating for spies. “We have seen them entering some of the houses and businesses, investigating but we have heard no disturbances as yet,” said Hirsiyo Caddey in Mahas.
It was difficult to reach phones in Goobo and Wara-Dhumale villages, but people in Mahas district affirmed those villages were taken by al-Shabaab as well.
The areas captured by al-Shabaab Thursday morning were seized by ASWJ and Ethiopian troops late in March and it is still unknown why ASWJ vacated them. Residents believe both parties are testing their strategic reach and care little for securing the rights of the people in the region.
Wabho is a strategic village in Galgudud region where Ethiopians are based, and it is possible that the Ethiopians will move in shortly.
Somalia Report tried to speak to ASWJ officials about this, but when called, Adam Abdulle, a senior officer of ASWJ, answered and said that he is in an battle trench now and they will report tomorrow. Al-Shabaab hasn't offered comment as yet, either.