4 May 2009

Somalia: Former Allies Involved in Mogadishu Skirmish

Militias loyal to Islamist factions in Somalia battled for control of a key facility Monday, Radio Garowe reports.

The fighting erupted near the ex-pasta factory in northern Mogadishu, which is under the control of militias loyal to ex-warlord Yusuf Indha Ade, witnesses said.

The attackers included Al Shabaab and Hizbul Islam fighters, with Indha Ade's militia claiming to have "pushed back" the attackers. At least one civilian was wounded in the skirmish.

Indha Ade's lieutenants claimed that Al Shabaab and Hizbul Islam factions were looking to "expand territory" into areas under the control of Indha Ade, who broke off from Hizbul Islam last month.

One faction of Hizbul Islam, including Indha Ade and led by Chairman Sheikh Hassan Ali "Amey," has called for a ceasefire with the Somali government. Inside sources said militias loyal to Indha Ade were recently paid by the Somali interim government, led by President Sheikh Sharif.

The main Hizbul Islam faction, including Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys and led by Chairman Omar Iman, has rejected President Sheikh Sharif's government and vowed war until African Union peacekeepers (AMISOM) withdraw from Somalia.

Separately, sources said Indha Ade is buying weapons and preparing his supporters for war to "retake control of Lower Shabelle region," which is currently under Al Shabaab control.

Aweys and Indha Ade have been close political and military allies for years, as the political landscape in south-central Somalia changed over time.

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