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Monday, January 12, 2009

Abu Yusuf of Ahlu Sunna Waljamaca Claim victory of Shabaab

Witnesses said more than 20 people, mostly fighters, were killed in Sunday's battles between Hareka al Shabaab al Mujahideen, or the Mujahideen Youth Movement, and another Islamist group in Gurael, a trading town in central Somalia.

Sheikh Abdullahi Abu Yusuf, spokesman for the Islamist group Ahlu Sunna Waljamaca, said its fighters had killed 30 al Shabaab militants and seized most of their weapons.
Resident Ahmed Ali told Reuters by telephone he had seen two dead, including an al Shabaab leader, and said Ahlu Sunna Waljamaca was in control of the town after repulsing an attack.

A doctor at Istarlin hospital in Gurael said it had received 20 wounded on Sunday and more were on their way.

The fighting followed clashes a day earlier between al Shabaab rebels and moderate Islamists in Balad, 30 km (19 miles) north of Mogadishu, on Saturday.

Al Shabaab, which spearheaded attacks last year to become the face of the insurgency, is also battling Ethiopian and government soldiers elsewhere outside the capital.

While the fighting may be a struggle between Islamist groups jostling for position as the Ethiopians go, local militias angry with al Shabaab's acts are reported to be helping.

Washington accuses the group of having close ties to al Qaeda. Al Shabaab has been imposing strict sharia law on the towns it controls in southern Somalia -- banning drinking or films and beheading suspected government collaborators.

Ahlu Sunna Waljamaca accuses al Shabaab of hunting down and killing its religious leaders and desecrating graves.

Somalia's interim President Sheikh Aden Madobe said on Saturday that al Shabaab was the biggest threat to stability in the Horn of Africa nation and appealed for international help to build up Somali security forces.

(Reporting from Mogadishu; Writing by David Clarke; Editing by Elizabeth Piper)

The Rest @ International Hearld Tribune

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