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Somali forces capture Sufi militia camp after battle

By AFP - Feb 29,2020 - Last updated at Feb 29,2020

MOGADISHU — Somali security forces have stormed a camp of a Sufi militia forcing their leaders to surrender after fighting in which 12 people were killed, officials and witnesses said on Saturday.

Fighting broke out between the army and the Ahlu Sunna Wal Jamaa (ASWJ) militia on Thursday night in Dhumasareb, the capital of the semi-autonomous Galmudug region, and intensified on Friday.

"The Somali forces took full control of the base of the rival militias and the situation is normal now, the leaders of the Sufi militias have surrendered to the force commanders," Abdullahi Ahmed, a Somali army commander told AFP by phone.

According to witnesses, most of the Sufi fighters surrendered during heavy fighting in the evening before the Somali security forces managed to make their way into their main base late in the morning.

The leader of the Sufi group Sheikh Mohamed Shakir who was leading the fight against the Somali security forces briefed the press after surrendering to the government forces.

"We have decided to compromise for the public after learning the situation was getting worse leading to more problems," Shakir said.

“The government is responsible for our security and that of the town and the public as we have headed our weapons to them,” he said.

Earlier this month, the parliament of Galmudug elected Ahmed Abdi Kariye, a former minister backed by the federal government, as president of the region.

ASWJ leader Shakir rejected the result and declared himself president. A former Galmudug president, Ahmed Duale, also claimed victory by forming his own parliament.

The Sufi group has played a major role in the fight against the Al Shabaab Islamists, supported by Al Qaeda, and has controlled the main cities of Galmudug for the past 10 years.

In 2017, Shakir agreed to join the regional administration but later distanced himself from it due to disagreements with its president.

He then agreed to a new election before changing his mind and accusing the federal government of manipulating the process to install one if its supporters.

Somalia has been plunged into chaos since the fall of the autocrat Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991.

 

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