Death toll hits 120 from 3-day fighting in central Somalia
MOGADISHU, Somalia - The death toll in the ongoing fights between the Ahlu Sunna Wal Jama'a [ASWJ] and Somali National Army [SNA] has increased to 120 as the United Nations calls for ceasefire and tolerance among the players.
Senior ASWJ officials said the fighting has also displaced thousands of people from the region with Guriel town being the most affected. SNA troops retook the town from the Sufi militia recently.
According to analysts, the ongoing fighting would derail the common fight against Al-Shabaab militants, who continue to wreak havoc in the Horn of Africa nation, which has suffered internal conflicts for several years.
“At least 120 people died and 600 were injured from both sides,” Hassan Yare from ASWJ told Reuters on Monday, adding his group intended to fight until their “last man died.”
Ahmed Shire Falagle, Galmudug state’s information minister said 16 government soldiers were killed and 45 injured during the three days of fighting. He did not know how many casualties the other side had suffered, but said the armed group had been cornered and government forces hoped to “finish them in the coming hours.”
Since Saturday, the parties have been fighting against each other, with both sides claiming victory. According to the United Nations, over 150,000 people have been displaced too far from their homes.
The ASWJ has been fighting against Al-Shabaab, not until 2020 when the government started fighting the group, leading to mass losses. The group temporarily declared a ceasefire, before resurfacing a few months ago.
ASWJ leader told Reuters that the federal government has failed to end the Al-Shabaab insurgency and that security is worsening in Galmudug state. The government accuses ASWJ of operating without its consent, a claim the armed group has not denied.
Earlier this month, federal forces made what they called a preemptive attack on ASWJ here. ASWJ fought back capturing Guriceel, where they were welcomed by residents. Galmudug state security minister Ahmed Moalim Fiqi resigned earlier this month, accusing federal officials of refusing his calls not to attack ASWJ.
The government insists that the ASWJ is keen to destabilize the efforts made by the administration on matters fight against Al-Shabaab and general governance. ASWJ insists that it's keen to fight Al-Shabaab militants.