Street FIGHT:Conflict
UPDATE
Fighting Intensifies Across The South
Counterclaims and Confusion Reign in Dhoobley
03/20/2011
Fighters in Dhoobley
©Somalia Report
Fighters in Dhoobley
Mogadishu

At least 17 people have been killed including several Al Shabaab fighters and dozens others injured in fresh clashes that rocked Somalia’s war-torn capital, Mogadishu, witnesses said.

Fierce gun battle and shelling rocked Mogadishu's northern districts of Hodan and Boondhere, where fighters from Al-Shabaab attacked positions of pro-government forces backed by African Union peacekeepers. Witnesses said incessant shelling destroyed residential areas, causing civilian casualties."On Sunday evening, I have seen the dead bodies of at least 10 civilians lying on the street of Bondhere. The fighting is still concentrated around African Village and Milk factory" an eyewitness told Somalia Report.

At least 34 people, mainly fighters have been killed and several others wounded after heavily armed Somali forces clashed with insurgent fighters over the control of the southern border town of Dhoobley along the Somali-Kenya border. The small hospital previously built and equipped by the defunct Saracen International near Villa Somalia reports that they are receiving at least 15 victims of gunshot wounds a day with direct 23mm and sniper fire taking a toll.

Al Shabaab continues to call for recruits and announced that they have set up new training facilities in the Laanta Buro village just outside Afgoye less than an hour south of Mogadishu. Sheik Mohamed Abu Ubeyd- who is the governor of Marka told Somalia Report “This campaign is the one we wish to liberate the enemy who invaded the country and the criminals who are their stooges”, he added. The officer said that they opened a larger camp at Lanta Buro location for training while the one in Marka town is intended for registration for those who wish to take part the Jihad war.

Dhoobley

Residents of Dhoobley reported that heavily armed security forces backed by Kenya troops ridding in several battle wagons, entered the town, clashing with the Al Shabaab stationed in the area. Kenyan forces are said to provide artillery and support to a newly formed pro government militia formed from former Hizbul Islam fighters led by Sheikh Ahmed Mohamed Islam "Madobe"

A Somali elder told Somalia Report that at least 34 people, mainly soldiers from both sides were killed and dozens others wounded in the fighting. “Several fighters were killed in five hours combat, but Al Shabaab is still controlling the areas, Sheikh Salah Daud told Somalia Report, "Al Shabaab took advantage of the confusion to claim control of the town and threaten Kenya with retribution."

"The TFG soldiers backed by Kenyan forces attacked our positions but we successfully defended them and now we also seized some positions of government troops," Sheikh Abdiaziz Abu-muscab said late on Sunday.

The two groups have fighting against other over the control of southern regions since last year. Dhoobley has also been the victim of heavy fighting during the Ethiopian invasion in 2006 2010 and even a U.S. missile attack in 2008. The area has long been an al Shabaab base.

Other reports estimate the casualties as lower. Another source estimates that the number of killed was around ten people mostly from the warring sides are believed to have been killed in a fierce fighting between newly trained pro government militia under the command of Sheikh Ahmed Madobe and Alshabaab fighters

Dhoobley is 20kms from the border between Somalia and Kenya and 200kms north of Kismayo

Additionally there were competing claims by the government and al Shabaab as to who exactly was holding the town. The consensus is that earlier gains by al Shabaab were erased by the former Hizbul Islam fighters who now call themselves the Raskamboni Brigade. The Raskamboni Brigade is a coalition of Asmara-wing Alliance Re-liberation for Somalia individuals, clan based Ogaden fighters and Mu'askhar Raskamboni force is believed to have physical strength to approach Al Shabaab.

Tough talk was the order of the day. A government officer who requested anonymity told Somalia Report today that in the coming hours there will be a full scale fighting against what he called the invading terrorists from the world, he added “Raskamboni Brigade will now encounter the enemy and will disseminate them soon”. Al Shabaab spokesman told the media they will attack Kenya and control the town.

The officer described Dhoobley as "no man’s land" and will remain a battle zone unless he said they chase the enemy. Residents fled ahead of the expected fighting leaving the town as an empty battlefield. Those who did not flee stay inside. Batulo Ahmed, a resident of Dhoobley told Somalia Report that the residents could hear the heavy shelling as they woke up and remained indoors.

Gedo

In Gedo in Southwestern Somalia hundreds additional Ethiopian troops with armed tanks have arrived .

The troop movement was seen in the past hours to counter Al Shabaab attacks to the strategic northern Gedo district of Luk where hundreds of pro government fighters are now stationed. The town controlled by the TFG is said to have been tense since yesterday due to an attack by the insurgents.

Local travelers on the road between Luk and Dolow have witnessed the troop buildup in the area; one of them who spoke on anonymity condition said that the Ethiopian troops have set up bases in the outskirts of Luk in an area called Kuredka. They told Somalia Report that they have seen several Ethiopian military trucks called Urals on the road moving into the area.

Ethiopian military units are inside border regions such as Gedo,Bakol, Hiran and Galgadud.

Hussien Moulid, Mohamed Ahmed, Mohamed Ahmed Adan and Sunni Said Saleh contributed to this report