Monday, September 17, 2012
By Abdulkadir Khalif
Reports from Somalia indicate that there were armed confrontations between Amisom troops, the Somali government forces, Ras Kamboni Brigade and al-Shabaab fighters at Birta Dheer on Saturday.
Birta Dheer, located about 60 kilometres west of the port town of Kismayu, is a heavily guarded post that had been under the control of the al-Shabaab for the past three years.
The allied forces reportedly advanced from Bibi Township earlier and the place was seized by pro-government forces on Friday. Bibi is a strategic location that unites the roads from Afmadow and Bilis Qoqani, a major route leading to Kismayu, the regional and commercial capital of Jubbada in Somalia.
Sources close to the development over the last two days indicate that tension is high in the affected areas as pro-government forces show determination to move closer to Kismayu, an al-Shabaab stronghold.
Mr Abdinaser Seraar, the spokesperson of Ras Kamboni Brigade, a clan-based paramilitary group allied with the Somali government, on Saturday said the al-Shabaab fighters were not in position of repelling the allied forces’ advances.
Although Seraar insisted that the allied forces were empowered to seize the port town, a senior al-Shabaab official in Kismayu said his fighters will put up resistance.
Al-Shabaab has neither released statements on the military advances nor said a word about the seizure of Bibi and Birta Dheer.