Clash of rival Somali groups kills 10 in Mogadishu
Ten people were killed in fighting between the pro-government Ahlu Sunna Waljamaca group and opposition group al-Shaabab, witnesses said.
Ten people were killed on Saturday in fighting between the pro-government Ahlu Sunna Waljamaca group and opposition group al-Shaabab in central Somalia, witnesses and both sides said.
The fighting was the first since Dec. 2008 when Ahlu Sunna, made up of Sufis, took control of Dusamareb town from al Shabaab militia after battles in which dozens of people were killed.
Residents said al Shabaab fighters attacked Dusamareb, 560 km (350 miles) north of Mogadishu, in the early hours of the morning, pounding the eastern side of the town with mortars and prompting the ahlu Sunna to return machine gun fire.
"Most of the residents fled into the jungle. This fighting will obviously spread to other central towns," elder Osman Aden told Reuters. "I have seen 10 dead people lying in the villages as I fled."
Residents said the rebel group al Shabaab has been forcibly recruiting youths in readiness for an attack against government and moderate Islamists in central Somalia.
An Ahlu Sunna spokesman said they had repulsed al Shabaab and killed several of their fighters who attacked Dusamareb.
"Al Shabaab attacked us this morning but we killed many of them and took their weapons. " sheikh Abdullahi sheikh Abu Yusuf told Reuters.
"We drove them out of the town and we shall redouble our war on al Shabaab. We shall soon reach new towns from where these pseudo Muslims attacked us."
His al Shabaab counterpart denied the claim.
"We have captured Dusamareb and killed many Sufis. We also took four battle wagons from them," Sheikh Ali Mohamud Rage, al Shabaab's spokesman, told Reuters by phone from Mogadishu.
The armed opposition group launched their insurgency at the start of 2007 to drive out Ethiopian troops propping up the Western-backed government in the Horn of Africa nation.
Ethiopians left at the start of 2009 and the civilian death toll sharly dropped and President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed's troops who control little more than a few streets of the battle-scarred capital.
Reuters Last Mod: 02 Ocak 2010, 14:48