The Transitional Federal Government’s Gedo Governor, Mohamed Kalil, told the UN-funded Radio Bar Kulan that Shangole was among the dead as al-Shabaab launched a fierce counter-attack on Garbaharey, which the government seized control of without a fight last week.
Local sources told Somalia Report at least 28 combatants were killed when hundreds of al-Shabaab fighters launched mortar attacks and waves of ground troops against the forces of the TFG and moderate Islamist militia Ahlu Sunna wal Jamaa (ASWJ) after morning prayers.
Sources close to al-Shabaab in Bardera, south of Garbaharey, confirmed some senior officials were among the dead - one of them al-Shabaab regional head of public awareness, Sheikh Mohamed Mohamoud. An AWSJ senior commander who spoke to Somalia Report could not confirm the names of those killed, but said the identities of four senior al-Shabaab leaders and foreign Jihadists would be disclosed to the media Tuesday. Kalil said that passports and photographs of the dead would also be revealed.
Shangole spent 12 years in Sweden as an asylum seeker, working as an Imam, before returning to join the Islamic Court Union. When Ethiopian forces ousted the Islamist regime in 2006, Shangole joined the al-Shabaab insurgency. According to Swedish media, he was personally involved in stoning to death a 13-year-old girl and cutting off the hand of a man accused of theft.
Pro-government forces in Garbaharey claimed victory in the fighting, but the situation was still tense late Monday and TFG and ASWJ forces could be seen in and around the town. Reports from Dolow, a border town near Ethiopia, said TFG and ASWJ fighters were sent to Garbaharey to reinforce to the troops.
Residents in Garbaharey had been expecting a fight since Saturday, when al-Shabaab began to dig in around 3 kilometers outside the town.
The government has been making gains in Gedo, a region that borders Kenya and Ethiopia, seizing key towns from al-Shabaab. The militants have shifted to ambushes, laying landmines and launching hit-and-run attacks in an attempt to halt the advance.