Somalis are celebrating reports of the
defeat of the Islamic fundamentalist group al-Shabab after several members of
their fighters were killed Sunday in fierce clashes in central Somalia.
described as by Washington as a terrorist organization, clashed with Islamist
group Ahlu Sunna Waljamaca for control of central Somalia as Ethiopian troops began their crucial
withdrawal. Several al-Shabab militant fighters were reported killed and their
weapons seized. Sheik Abdulkarim Risak
is a senior officer of the Islamic group Ahlu Sunna Waljamaca. He tells
reporter Peter Clottey that his fighters will continue fighting al-Shabab until
they are flushed out of Somalia.
you already know, early in the morning they (al-Shabab) came from different
places to Gruael. You know, most of the Somalis call them al-Shabab, but in the
Somali language we say they are al-Shaar because they are evil really. They
come fighting in different places and killed a lot of people, but Allah
willing, we saved our people and we pushed them back some kilometers," Risak noted.
He said his Ahlu Sunna
Waljamaca fighters would continue to protect mainstream defenseless Somalis.
"We are defending ourselves.
We are defending our wives. And we are defending our religion. Our religion
prohibits Muslims fighting among ourselves, and you know, these people are not
Muslims at all. They are foreign fighters, and I think they are al-Qaeda. But
al-Qaeda is not functioning here in Somalia," he said.
Risak said his group is full
of devout Muslims who pleaded with al-Shabab not to attack them, but claims
that was not heeded.
"In here we consider Islam
as a very good religion and we are not at war with anybody. We already told
them to please not enter into our area of influence and internal affairs, but
they refused that," Risak pointed out.
He said his group would
continue to flush out fighters belonging to al-Shabab.
"Thanks to Allah, we have
taught them a lesson today because they left at least 50 persons dead. And I
think most of them are foreigners, and maybe they might be coming from South
East Asia. And today they have received a good lesson. And I think they would
not fight again because this is the latest casualties they have received in
Gureal... and now we are moving to the capital, Mogadishu. We will continue to
chase them wherever they are, and even if they are in a corner of our country,
I think we would not stop our fighting," he said.
Meanwhile, Somali political analysts say there is a high
possibility that the withdrawal of Ethiopian troops could usher in a new
chapter of violence, adding that it may also open a window of opportunity to
bring some Islamist groups into the political process and form a broad,
Some witnesses of Sunday's clashes between al-Shabab and
Ahlu Sunna Waljamaca say at least 20 people, mostly fighters of al-Shabab, were