Marka — Somali government troops fought each other along clan loyalties last week in Lower Shabelle region, and the federal government has dispatched a ministerial delegation to resolve the violent dispute over regional influence, Garowe Online reports.
Fighting erupted on July 24 in the outskirts of Marka, provincial capital of Lower Shabelle region, between Somali government troops belonging to Biyamal and Habar Gedir clans. Local reports said at least three soldiers were killed.
The fighting erupted after one group of government soldiers attacked another group of government soldiers at El Warego village near Marka. Renewed fighting occurred on July 25 in Janale area, local reports said.
On July 26, Lower Shabelle Governor Abdulkadir Mohamed Nur Sidi accused unnamed groups in Mogadishu of "fuelling" the conflict in Lower Shabelle region.
"Clan fighting among government troops is unfortunate. The fighting is fuelled from Mogadishu by select groups who are responsible for it," said Governor Sidi.
Also on July 26, Somali government dispatched a ministerial delegation led by Interior and National Security Minister Abdikarim Hussein Guled, along with a number of federal parliamentarians to try and diffuse tensions.
Speaking to reports later that day, Minister Guled declared that a "ceasefire" had been reached and that government troops and AMISOM forces were now in control of areas where the fighting occurred. Minister Guled said the government officials had meetings with traditional elders to try and diffuse clan tensions in the region.
Local reports say political tensions have been heightened in Lower Shabelle region in recent months, as the Biyamal clan the native residents of Lower Shabelle region clashed with Habar Gedir clan members, who settled in Lower Shabelle region since the outbreak of Somali civil war in 1991.
According to a new report from the UN Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea, the 3rd Brigade of the Somali National Army (SNA) controls the Afgoye-Marka area of Lower Shabelle region.
"The 3rd Brigade is principally drawn from the Hawiye / Habar Gedir / Ayr clan. It consists of approximately 840 men...General Mohamed Roble Jimale 'Gobale' (Hawiye / Habar Gedir / Ayr), a close associate of Indha'adde, officially controls the 3rd Brigade", according to the UN report.
The report alleged that areas under the control of the 3rd Brigade have been "heavily infiltrated by Al Shabaab" and that 3rd Brigade troops have "repeatedly been involved in setting up illegal checkpoints and harassing civilians, including raping women", the UN report noted.
Citing military intelligence sources, the UN report stated: "During the course of 2012, 3rd Brigade has engaged in skirmishes with at least one other SNA brigade (6th Brigade)."
Yusuf Mohamed Indha'adde, the former warlord of Lower Shabelle region, is known to have used Habar Gedir clan militia to subjugate local populations in the 2000s in Lower Shabelle region - including Biyamal clan - and Indha'adde remains deeply unpopular in Lower Shabelle region among native clans.
Gobale, a former warlord in Kismayo and now government military officer, commands Indha'adde's clan militia aiming to exert Habar Gedir clan influence and domination in Lower Shabelle region and thereby exacerbating clan tensions in Lower Shabelle region.