Somalia’s Ahlu Sunna group captures key town


MOGADISHU, Somalia – Heavily armed Ahlu Sunna Wal Jama militias have taken over Guriel town, some 450 km north of the Somalia’s capital Mogadishu.

The militias faced no resistance and entered the town peacefully after government forces pulled out without a fight or firing a single shot, a local resident said.

He says Ahlu Sunna battle wagons were visible encircling the town.

Reliable sources told Shabelle Media that at least one officer had switched sides, paving the way for Ahlu Sunna militias to re-enter the town without any confrontation.

The capture of the town is big blow to the efforts improving security for the civilian population in the region. This will also create new security challenges for Galmudug state based in Dhusamareb town.

On Thursday, unspecified number of combatants were killed after Ahlu Sunna militias clashed with government forces in Bohol area, about 35km north of Dhusamareb.

The militias also captured two military vehicles and a water tanker.

Ahlu Sunna is a Somalia-based paramilitary group consisting of moderate Sufis opposed to radical Salafi groups such as Al-Shabaab.

The group has been fighting to prevent strict Sharia and Wahhabism from being imposed, while protecting local Sunni-Sufi traditions and generally moderate religious views.

In December 2017, Ahlu Sunna group signed a power-sharing agreement with the state administration.

In 2019, Somali government launched an exercise to incorporate forces of the Ahlu Sunna group into the country’s Security Forces..

The militants were integrated into the security agencies that include the army, police, intelligence service, and custodial corps. The integration, which involves capturing an individuals’ biometrics, supports efforts to build active Somali Security Forces.

By Abdirisak Mohamud Tuuryare


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