MOGADISHU, Somalia – At least seven more bullet-riddled bodies were recovered following a three-day battle between Somali army and Ahlu Sunna group in Guriel town, some 445km north of the capital Mogadishu.
In an interview with Shabelle Media, a local resident, who asked to be anonymous, said he had seen bodies of seven people, including a woman near the town’s market.
Addressing in Guriel conflict on Tuesday, Somalia’s Galmudug state president Ahmed Karire Qoorqoor had sent heart-felt condolences to families who lost their loved ones in the battle.
Qoorqoor said that Ahlu Sunna group had refused to engage in dialogue and forced his state to take effective measures in self-defense.
In a phone interview with Shabelle Media, both Somali military and Ahlu Sunna officials said at least 120 people were killed and 600 others wounded in a fighting over control of Guriel town. The clashes erupted on Saturday and continued until Monday.
On Monday, United Nations condemned the fighting in a statement, saying over 100,000 people, many of whom are women and children were forced to flee their homes since the offensive started on Saturday.
The UN said two hospitals were also hit by mortar shells that caused the disruption lifesaving services in the town.
Meanwhile, The United States government also expressed deep concern over the reports that the US-trained Special Forces known as Danab had joined the fighting against Ahlu Sunna.
A senior official at US embassy in Mogadishu, who asked to be anonymous, said that Washington would review its support for Danab Special Forces of Somalia due to their involvement in the fighting.
A Danab commander identified as Abdilatif Feyfle was among those killed in the battle.
Danab unit was trained only to fight against al Shabaab, an al Qaeda linked group battling the weak-western backed government of Somalia.
Calm has returned on Wednesday when Ahlu Sunna group abandoned its last major stronghold in Guriel town where the group’s militias engaged in heavy battle with Somali army forces that left dozens of people, mostly soldiers dead.
The group also retreated to a nearby village called Godwiil, where they could make mobilization for a counter-attack on the town.
By Abdirisak Mohamud Tuuryare