News / Africa

Sufi Militia Says Al-Shabab Planning to Attack Galgadud Region

Sheik Abdulahi Sheik Abirahman Al-Qadi, the spokesman of the Pro-government Ahlu-Sunna group speaks during a press conference near a frontline in southern Mogadishu (File Photo)
Sheik Abdulahi Sheik Abirahman Al-Qadi, the spokesman of the Pro-government Ahlu-Sunna group speaks during a press conference near a frontline in southern Mogadishu (File Photo)

A Sufi militia defending parts of Somalia's central regions from al-Qaida-linked militants says it believes al-Shabab has shifted some of the group's military focus from Mogadishu to the central regions and is preparing to launch attacks in the central Galgadud region.

Fighters for the Sufi Ahlu-Sunna Wal-Jama'a militia are said to be on high alert in Ahlu-Sunna strongholds, including Dhusamareb, Guri-el, Abudwaq and Balanbal in the Galgadud region.

Earlier this week, a spokesman for the Sufi group, Abdullahi Abdirahman al-Qadi urged residents in towns under its control to remain vigilant and to report any al-Shabab presence or activity.

Stability

Horn of Africa observer Stig Jarle Hansen at the Norwegian Institute for Urban and Regional Research says if al-Shabab attacks and is able to capture Dhusamareb, it could significantly affect the stability of Somalia's semi-autonomous Puntland region as well.

The Puntland government is battling an Islamist insurgency in the remote mountains of northern Somalia, led by factional leader, Mohamed Siad Atom, who has pledged allegiance to al-Shabab and is believed to have links with al-Qaida,

Analyst Hansen says the fear is that if Ahlu-Sunna is chased out of Dhusamareb, al-Shabab may be able to advance to the Puntland-controlled area of Galkayo and link up with Atom's forces.

"The wider picture is that al-Shabab has been slowly but surely expanding north into Galgadud province," said Hansen. "In fact, the last stronghold of the Sufists before you reach Galkayo is Dhusamareb. If Dhusamareb falls to al-Shabab, that might change the whole strategic situation."

Buffer

Although Ahlu-Sunna suffers from internal divisions, it has served a vital role as a buffer force against al-Shabab ambitions to seize all regions in southern and central Somalia.

Ahlu-Sunna's heightened concern in Galgadud follows a major offensive launched by al-Shabab in the Somali capital Mogadishu during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. Al-Shabab, which aims to turn Somalia and other parts of the region into an ultra-conservative Islamic caliphate, carried out two separate suicide attacks in the city and, following fierce battles, took over several government bases. But it failed in its larger objective to take the presidential palace and other key sites that remain under A.U. and government control.

Unable to seize all of Mogadishu, observers say there is a possibility that al-Shabab could be shifting its strategy and looking once again to target Galgadud's largest town, Dhusamareb.

In January, al-Shabab forces briefly seized Dhusamareb from Ahlu-Sunna Wal-Jama'a in what analysts described was part of a move to encircle the government in Mogadishu by extending its authority throughout central Somalia. Ahlu-Sunna fought back several days later and regained control of Dhusamareb. It has controlled the town ever since.

Ahlu-Sunna's reputation in Somalia has been tainted by reports that it is supported by Somalia's regional rival, Ethiopia.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

America's Most Exotic Presidential Pets

From alligators to bears, the White House has been home to some unusual presidential pets over the years More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugeesi
X
Carolyn Weaver
July 06, 2015 6:47 PM
In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.

VOA Blogs