|Join Our Mailing List|
Moderate militia Ahlu Sunna wal Jamaa (ASWJ) has regained control of Dhusamareb in its stronghold of Galgadud after militant Islamist group al-Shabaab briefly took control of the town, residents said Sunday.
Al-Shabaab launched an assault on the central town on Saturday afternoon, forcing ASWJ into what military commander Abirahman Ali told Somalia Report was a “tactical retreat.”
However, ASWJ forces re-entered the town at 2.30am and forced al-Shabaab back to the nearby settlement of El-Bur, where many of the insurgents are based.
At least five people died and nine were wounded in the fighting, which residents say involved heavy artillery. Al-Shabaab also looted the offfices of local non-governmental organizations, some of which partner with the World Food Programme, according to residents. Thousands fled into the outskirts of the town as fighting raged.
Analysts recently warned that al-Shabaab could be ready to profit from divisions within ASWJ, which have weakened the group's fighting capability.
Recently, militia from the Sade/Marehan, a subclan of the Darod, took their fighters back to their home district of Abudwaq in Galgadud. These fighters, around 30 per cent of ASWJ's estimated total force of about 2,000 (1,500 in central regions and just short of 500 in Gedo, according to ASWJ commanders and locals), were key in pushing back al-Shabaab in Galgadud and Hiran districts and helping the TFG gain control of key towns in the Gedo region.
The split centres around the allocation of weapons donated by Ethiopia, whose two-year occupation sparked the ongoing insurgency, and concerns that certain clans were being favoured for key positions.
Attempts to hail the rift have so far failed, leaving a weakened AWSJ to fend off further attacks from the emboldened al-Shabaab.