By Nangayi Guyson – Mogadishu – Somali government troops and allied forces has retaken the southeastern town of Bulo Hawo near the Kenyan border after defeating Al-Qaeda-inspired Shabaab Islamists on Sunday , officials and witnesses said.
A number of residents said government troops and fighters from the Sufi sect Ahlu Sunna dislodged the Shabaab in a battle lasting about an hour.
The Ahlu Sunna was founded in 1991 to promote moderate Sufi Islam in Somalia. It renounced a posture of non-violence in early 2009 to take on the radical Shebab and their allies from the Hezb al-Islam movement.
The Ahlu Sunna does not fully recognise Somali President Sherif Sheikh Ahmed’s transitional government but it too wants to rid Somalia of the Shebab and its al-Qaeda-inspired ideology.
Another resident, Mohamed Shakur said: “the Islamists left town after they lost the battle, and the dead bodies were lying on the outskirts.”
The situation had quieted down and the government imposed a curfew at sunset, he added.
However ,” Mohamed Abdi Kalil, the government’s governor for the province,also reported by telephone , saying “We took control of the city after defeating the enemy.
“Residents were applauding with happiness after they saw the national army back in town after living under the tough regime of the Shabaab,” he added. Kalil said many Shabaab fighters had been killed in the fighting, while one government soldier was killed and two injured.
The Shebab control large swathes of southern and central Somalia and have wrested control of much of the capital Mogadishu, where they have relentlessly attacked government and African Union forces.