18 April 2014

Somalia - Military in Deadly Battle With Police in Middle Shabelle

Jowhar, Somalia — Fierce fighting has raged between the Somali National Army (SNA) soldiers and police officers in Middle Shabelle regional district of Balad of southern Somalia on Friday, Garowe Online reports.

The deadly battle initially broke out at Balad Bridge after military forces loyal to Balad Mayor Osman Hadole fired live ammunitions at police officers in armored vehicles enroute to Jowhar according to witnesses.

Despite conflicting reports on the casualty figures, the police commander for Middle Shabelle division is among those who were wounded in the clash. The vicinity where the fighting took place is now remaining under the control of military forces.

A spokesman for Middle Shabelle region administration Daud Haji Iro has accused Balad mayor of denying police officers entry into Middle Shabelle regional capital of Jowhar.

Speaking on Mogadishu-based radio station, Irro said: "The clash [between military and police] resulted in deaths and other fatalities; we have so far confirmed that six soldiers sustained injuries during the fighting but the expected death toll could rise since many police officers are on the run in the jungle".

Composed of inept soldiers who fought alongside criminal gangs and warlord militias over the last two decades of chaos, Somali National Army (SNA) faces formidable challenges.

The agriculture-rich town of Balad, 30km north of Mogadishu was liberated from Al Qaeda linked Al Shabaab fighters in June 2012.

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