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Somalia's al-Shabaab insurgent group seized Diif village in Lower Juba region early on Sunday morning after small clashes between them and the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) alongside pro-government clan militias of Ras Kamboni. Diif was taken back later on Sunday by TFG & Kenyan troops, see below.
According to the residents of Diif, there was brief encounter between the two groups on Saturday night on the outskirts of the village which forced the allied forces to abandon Diif.
“Last night we heard the sound of bullets on the outskirts of the town, and in the morning we woke up to al-Shabaab’s black flags flying over the village and al-Shabaab fighters all over the town. Even we don’t know when they entered, they are patrolling the village. They talked with the elders and we don’t know what they discussed,” one of the residents told Somalia Report on condition of anonymity.
“We have information that Government forces that left the villages are less than 10 kilometers away and the people fear a regrouping and attack by TFG,” the source added.
One of the senior officials heading al-Shabab fighters who seized Diif, Sheikh Dulyadeyn spoke to the people in a public arena and told them to be calm.
“Calm down, no one will create problems for you. The enemies have gone and here are your brothers who are Muslims. We will govern you with the Islamic Sharia and we hope you will be satisfied with it,” he announced.
“We will not tolerate a Somali person working with the enemies. Whoever turns to the infidels’ side and supports them is not a Muslim. Our religion orders us to kill them. We shall not stop the war until we clean the enemies from our country, each and every one of you has to come out and defend his country and religion,” Dulyadey told the people.
Diif is a strategic village located five kilometers from the Kenyan border and connects many districts in Kenya and Lower Jubba region. The loss of this village is a huge setback for the TFG and the Kenyan Defense Forces (KDF), who claim that they pushed the insurgents 100 kilometers from the border.
Meanwhile, Kenyan defense department on Saturday announced that their troops may pull out from Somalia in eight months after KDF joins African Union Peacekeepers (AMISOM) in Somalia.
“Since we were integrated into the African Union Mission in Somalia, we are going to operate within the AMISOM mandate which expires on October 31 this year. We expect to be there for as long as that mandate is running. The mandate aims at peace enforcement,” said Kenyan military spokesman Colonel Cyrus Oguna.
“From October 31st onwards, our presence will depend on the assessment of what will be prevailing on the ground at the time by the African Union Peace and Security Council. They may determine to extend the period or otherwise,” Oguna added.
The Kenyan forces entered Somalia in October last year when they declared war against al-Shabab and initiated a military invasion coined ‘Operation Linda Nchi’ meaning protect the nation.
UPDATE: TFG & Kenyan Troops Seize Diif Back From Shabaab
Transitional Federal Government (TFG) troops, along with allied Kenyan troops, re-captured the Diif village in lower Juba region late on Sunday, TFG officials confirmed to Somalia Report.
TFG officials told Somalia Report that TFG troops and allies from Kenya attacked late Sunday afternoon and recaptured the village from the al-Shabaab militants after several hours of fighting. “TFG and Kenyan troops reseized the village from the al-Shabaab militants late today. They fought with al-shabaab militants and removed them from the village by force. Currently, TFG and Kenyan troops are in control of the village as of this (Sunday) evening,” Yusuf Hussein Osman Dhumaal, TFG’s commander for forces in Lower and Middle Juba regions, told Somalia Report by phone.
Somalia Report asked how the al-Shabaab militants managed to seize the village early on Sunday. “There were only small number of police in the village in the morning, and they entered and took power quickly. They killed one civilian in the street, and threatened the people to support them. When TFG officials heard of this, our troops quickly mobilized and attacked,” said Commander Dhumaal.
The situation of Diif village is now quiet. TFG forces are patrolling the streets while the Kenyan troops are also present. Sources from Diif added that people went to their homes early tonight, fearing a new round of fighting between al-Shabaab and the joint forces. Locals also told Somalia Report that al-Shabaab militants had fled the village in the direction of Afmadow. TFG officials told Somalia Report that they are prepared to respond to al-Shabaab’s attack.
“Diif is now secure, but the troops are now watching carefully for another attack from al-Shabaab. Their tactics is to attack a village when the troops busy with another operation or outside of the city,” Commander Dhuumaal told Somalia Report.
Al-Shabaab has not yet commented.