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Friday, March 20, 2009

Somali dissidents brace for al-Shabaab war

Fri, 20 Mar 2009 14:34:59 GMT

Former Somali government officials are preparing troops to wrest control of towns south of the Horn of Africa country from al-Shabaab.

The ousted administers of Somalia's southern regions of Bay and Bakool are massing troops in the border town of El Barde in a bid to strike al-Shabaab positions in Rabdhure, Wajid and Hudur, a Press TV correspondent reported.

The sources within the former government camp confirmed the intention to attack the armed group -- viewed as the military wing of the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) -- in the upcoming days without going into further details.

On Thursday, al-Shabaab said its members had killed 16 fighters belonging to the forces loyal to the former government headed by ex-president Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed.

Sheikh Hassan Abu Ayman, the group's chairman in Bay and Bakool regions, acknowledged that the men were captured alive but were later executed allegedly for staging attacks against al-Shabaab and displacing civilians.

A number of former government soldiers have refused to lay down arms or join the current government since Yusuf Ahmed was forced to stand down in December amid calls for his resignation.

Al-Shabaab is also engaged in bloody clashes with the new government soldiers backed by the African Union peacekeeping force (AMISOM), the religious armed group of Ahlu Sunna based in the Galgadud region and former interim government troops.

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