Al-Shabaab renews offensive in southern Somalia
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Hooded militants loyal to Al-Shabaab, the radical Islamist
group, seized the town of Hudur, the capital of Bakol region, 420 km
southwest of Mogadishu.
The militants entered the town late on Sunday when
Ethiopian troops and accompanying Somali forces had abandoned the town
earlier in the day.
Talking to the media on Monday, residents who
disguised the identities for security reasons reported that the
Ethiopians loaded their gears and weaponry on a number of trucks before
“By ten o’clock (on Sunday) there was no a single Ethiopian soldier in the town,” said a resident.
Indeed, heavily armed Ethiopian troops supporting
Somali government forces captured Hudur town on 22nd of March 2012. The
development denied the fanatical militants the control of another
regional capital after the fall of Baidoa town, 240 km south of
Mogadishu, the capital of Bay region, a month earlier.
On Monday, the local people in Hudur town
confirmed that many people fled the town in anticipation of repeated
hostilities and revenge attacks by Al-Shabaab militants.
So far, the Somali government made no statement on the abandonment of the Ethiopians and its forces of Hudur town.
Other reports on Monday confirmed that Al-Shabaab
fighters overwhelmed Somali government forces in Awdinle district, 30 km
west of Baidoa, seizing the place after two days of bitter
Fleeing government soldiers reportedly reached Baidoa on Monday morning.
Somali government forces had seized Awdinle from Al-Shabaab just three days earlier.
Meanwhile, Abdinasir Mohamed Ali Nuhurkey, a
journalist working with Mustaqbal Radio, an independent broadcaster in
the Somalia capital Mogadishu died as a result of a suicide blast on
Abdurashid Nur Ibrahim, another reporter with
Mustaqbal Radio was badly wounded by the explosion in downtown Mogadishu
that killed up to 10 people.
Dr Mohamed Yusuf, the Director of Madina Hospital,
the largest referral facility of war casualties in Mogadishu, stated on
Monday that four dead bodies and seventeen injured persons were
Sheikh Ali Mohamoud Raghe alias Sheikh Ali Dhere,
the Chief Spokesman of Al-Shabaab, stated on Monday that his
fundamentalist movement carried out the attack in Hudur town and the
suicide mission at Ex-Fiore Area in downtown Mogadishu.
“A member of al-Istishaad (suicide) Brigade
targeted a security service officer,” said Sheikh Ali Dhere. He claimed
killing government officers without referring to the large number of
civilian casualties including passengers in two public transport buses.
Indeed, General Ahmed Moalim Fiqi, the Chief of the National
Security Agency (SNA), said in Mogadishu, “It was obvious that the
anti-peace elements (a reference to Al-Shabaab fighters) targeted
General Khalif Ahmed Ereg (the Commander of SNA in the city).”
He added that one security officer was killed by the blast, confirming that innocent civilians were badly affected.