Marka — Heavy fighting has raged between two groups within the Somali Federal Government troops in Lower Shabelle region of Southern Somalia, leaving at least eight fighters dead on Saturday according to officials, Garowe Online reports.
The Deputy Governor of Lower Shabelle region Abdullahi Musse Abukar said on VOA Somali Service that the infighting occurred in eight areas including Sagaarley and Busley:"Eight persons from the battling sides died in the fighting and many others wounded. The clash is ongoing".
Residents reported that government troops fought each other along clan loyalties in El Waregow and Bufow, escalating another cycle of deadly confrontations among Mogadishu-based Federal Government soldiers.
Areas near Lower Shabelle regional capital of Marka saw the heaviest fighting, with local reports unveiling that soldiers belonging to Habar Gidir and Biyomal clans clashed in the battle.
Traditional leaders are said to have stood for the deadly tension as Somalia government has yet to comment on the incident.
Despite peace gatherings by clan elders, the dispute over regional influence has been dragging on over the last two years.
According to a report from the UN Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea in 2013, 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," the UN report stated.
The report alleged that areas under the control of the 3rd Brigade were "heavily infiltrated by Al Shabaab" and that 3rd Brigade troops "repeatedly involved in setting up illegal checkpoints and harassing civilians, including raping women", the UN report noted.
Citing military intelligence sources, the UN report said: "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.