25 February 2009

Somalia: Islamist Hardliners Oust Pro-Government Militia From Bakool

Islamist rebels in Somalia violently expelled pro-government militias from the frontier region of Bakool Wednesday, Radio Garowe reports.

Al Shabaab guerrillas backed by armed trucks attacked the town of Huddur, the provincial capital of Bakool region, from three different directions.

Witnesses said a three-hour battle erupted in the middle of the town, as Al Shabaab guerrillas and pro-government militias fought for control of the town.

There were no casualty reports immediately available.

Al Shabaab fighters seized control of Huddur and the pro-government militia was forced to flee, residents reported. The fighters reportedly seized weapons and trucks from the fleeing pro-government militia.

Adan Saransor, a former Baidoa warlord who fled Huddur, admitted to reporters that they were attacked by Al Shabaab, but declined to mention where he is.

Some reports said the pro-government militia and their leaders had fled to the town of Yeed, which is near the Ethiopian border.

Al Shabaab fighters seized control of Baidoa, seat of the Somali parliament, last month after Ethiopian troops withdrew, forcing government officials to flee to neighboring Bakool.

Ethiopian forces reportedly returned to parts of Bakool region last week, where they are reportedly organizing a front against Al Shabaab expansion.

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