14 August 2009

Somalia: 30 Killed in Central Somalia Clashes Among Islamists

Dhusamareb — At least 30 people were killed in central Somalia fighting between rival Islamist groups, Radio Garowe reports.

The fighting started on Thursday in El Dher district of Galgadud region, which has been the scene of numerous battles between Al Shabaab and Ahlu Sunnah Wal Jamee'a militias.

Sheikh Abdullahi Abdirahman "Abu Qadi," spokesman for Ahlu Sunnah, claimed victory and said Ahlu Sunnah fighters control the town.

"We counted 27 dead bodies as Al Shabaab fighters who attacked us ran away," Abu Qadi said, adding that ten Al Shabaab members were "captured alive."

He stated that the Ahlu Sunnah leadership believes "these young men were misled and will be returned to their families." Al Shabaab, or "the youth" in Arabic, is a group of Islamist hardliners that Western powers accuse of having links to Al Qaeda.

Separately, Al Shabaab spokesman Sheikh Ali "Dheere" Mohamud told reporters in Mogadishu that Al Shabaab seized control of El Dher district.

"Praise to Allah, we achieved victory in our battle against Ahlu Sunnah, which is supported by Ethiopia," Sheikh Ali Dheere said.

Local sources in El Dher district said that the warring factions "remain on the outskirts of town." Ahlu Sunnah militias peacefully took control of El Dher district earlier this week. READ: Ahlu Sunnah take district in central Somalia, Shabaab withdraw

Ahlu Sunnah and Al Shabaab have been fighting for control of Galgadud region since late 2008, when the Ahlu Sunnah militia was formed to fight against Al Shabaab's northbound expansion.

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