Islamist fighters seize central Somali town

Last Updated: Tuesday, March 20, 2012 - 15:32

Mogadishu: Al Qaeda allied Islamist gunmen
seized the key town of Dhusamareb in central Somalia Tuesday, as Shebab commanders called on fighters to intensify attacks
against government and regional forces.

Witnesses said Shebab fighters on pickup trucks mounted
with machine guns stormed the town at dawn, driving out the
pro-government militia Ahlu Sunna Wal Jamaa, an
Ethiopian-backed force who follow Somalia`s traditional Sufi
branch of Islam.

"The mujahideen fighters stormed the district after
attacking it from two directions early this morning, there was
little fighting as the apostate militia fled the city," Shebab
commander Sheikh Mohamed Ibrahim said by telephone.
"With God`s help, we will be advancing onto other
districts in the region," he added.

Dhusamareb is a strategic town in the central Galgadud region controlling a key road, and its capture marks a notable fight back by the hardline Shebab, who have pulled out of several key areas in recent months.
Rival armed groups have repeatedly fought over
Dhusamareb, controlling it briefly until fresh attacks roots
them out.

"Al-Shebab fighters riding on vehicles mounted with guns
entered the town after fighting with the Sufis, the city has
now fallen and they are setting up their base in the police
station," said Abdirahman Moalim, an elder in the city.

"Al-Shebab is in full control, the other fighters (Ahlu
Sunna) have left," said Ahmed Mohamud, another resident.
The town`s capture comes as Shebab chief Ahmed Abdi
Godane called on Islamist fighters to renew attacks against
the 10,000-strong African Union force, which props up the weak
Western-backed government in the anarchic capital Mogadishu.

"They (AU forces) will continue to face hard hitting
guerilla attacks that will destroy them, just as armies that
were more powerful than them were destroyed," Godane said in a
broadcast on the pro-Shebab Radio Al-Andalus.

PTI



First Published: Tuesday, March 20, 2012 - 15:32

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