Dozens dead in fighting between Somali army and former allied group

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MOGADISHU, October 24 (Reuters) – At least 30 people have died and more than 100 have been injured in the escalating fighting between the Somali National Army and its former ally Ahlu Sunnah Wal Jama’a (ASWJ) in the state Somali man in Galmudug over the weekend, residents and hospital officials said.

The clashes in the state’s second largest district, Guriceel, risk distracting the two groups from their fighting against Al Shabaab, analysts and residents said.

The spate of fighting erupted early on Saturday and continued until Sunday, residents told Reuters.

“I’m sure more than 30 people have died because I know 27 of them and they belong to both groups,” Farah Abdullahi told Reuters. His estimates were echoed by 10 residents interviewed individually by Reuters.

The army and the ASWJ were not available for comment.

ASWJ is a group of moderate Sufi Muslims who have played a key role in combating the al-Shabaab insurgency linked to al-Qaeda.

But tensions between the armed group and the federal government have been building up for years. ASWJ accuses the government of not doing enough to fight Al Shabaab, while the government accuses ASWJ of acting without his permission.

Tensions peaked earlier this month, when federal forces launched what they called a pre-emptive attack on ASWJ. ASWJ repelled the attack and captured Guriceel, whose residents welcomed the group. L8N2QX3SH

The dead from the weekend’s fighting included senior SNA officer Abdi Ladiif Fayfle, the commander of US-trained Danab forces, a relative told Reuters.

The city’s Fayo Care hospital received 30 wounded in the fighting, while the Istarlin hospital, also in the city, said it received 10, hospital officials told Reuters. Hanano hospital in a nearby town received 60, according to a former Reuters official.

SNA also airlifted a plane of injured soldiers to the capital, an airport worker told Reuters.

Galmudug State Security Minister Ahmed Moalim Fiqi resigned earlier this month, citing the refusal of federal officials to heed his calls not to attack the ASWJ.

“Many areas of Galmudug and the entire country are under al Shabaab. The SNA commander destroys the town of Guriceel and slaughters the ASWJ which is famous for eliminating Al Shaabab,” he said on Saturday.

Later Saturday, Al Shabaab militants hit an airport in Galmudug with mortars, airport workers said, compounding fears the group could profit from chaotic internal struggles.

“The escalating dispute between ASWJ and the government hijacks, if not undermines, other priorities such as advancing elections and fighting al-Shabaab,” said Omar Mahmood, Somalia analyst at the International Crisis Group. .

(This story corrected the date to October 24, not October 23)

Report by Abdi Sheikh; Writing by Ayenat Mersie; Editing by Maggie Fick and Raissa Kasolowsky

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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