Tensions in the Southern region of
Somalia are escalating after former Baidoa administration officials continue
attacks on hard-line Islamic insurgents al-Shabab in a bid to retake control of
the city. The former Baidoa security force claims it has been significantly
strengthened after another opposition, al-Sunnah Waljamaca, joined its ranks to
wrest power from al-Shabab. Al-Shabab, which Washington describes as a
terrorist organization with close links to al-Qaeda, seized Baidoa and the
parliament building after the Islamic extremists attacked forces of the former
Transitional Federal Government (TFG) earlier this year.
education minister Mohammed Ali Ahmed tells reporter Peter Clottey that Baidoa
residents are sharply divided on which of the two groups would be better
controlling the city.
was a clash between the militia who were in control formerly of Baidoa and
al-Shabab. The former militiamen made some roadblocks at a palace which is
about 30 kilometers north of Baidoa. And when the guys from al-Shabab heard
this information, they went there and at night around 2 a.m., there was a clash
which ended with death and injuries on both sides. On the side of al-Shabaab
two of their fighters were killed and at least 19 injured. On the other side,
there were at least three dead and six wounded," Ali Ahmed said.
said residents of Baidoa are tired of the clashes, which have had a devastating
effect on them.
know, the residents of Baidoa are fed up with these clashes. They have been
affected by these clashes for the last 18 years they suffered clashes between
rival clans and between the national army and hard-line insurgent groups. They
are simply saying they are fed up of this war which seems not to end. They want
to ensure that peace returns to towns so they could go back to live their
meaningful lives as they always did," he said.
Ahmed said opinions are sharply divided over which groups are best suited to
control the city and maintain peace and security.
see supporters of these two groups are living side by side in Baidoa. The
people are divided into two parts some of them are supporting the work the
government has been doing and some of the residents are also supporting
al-Shabab. So it would be difficult to see a separation of who supports the
militia and who supports al-Shabab. So whenever there are clashes, the people take
it seriously, knowing that the clashes will come to their city and more people
are going to die and leave destruction all over the place," Ali Ahmed pointed
said another opposition group has joined forces with the former Baidoa
administration to take over control of the city.
al-Sunnah Waljamaca group joined the former Baidoa officials to get rid of
al-Shabaab in Baidoa. They are, however, far away from Baidoa, which is about
300 kilometers away, which is pretty close to the border with Ethiopia. So they
made an announcement saying the two groups are joined together, and that they
will come back here to Baidoa. But I see it as a mere rhetoric and not
practical," he said.
group al-Qaeda has so far refused to recognize the new Somali government,
vowing eventually to take over the country through violence. The insurgent
group urged Somalis to redouble attacks on a growing African Union peacekeeping
force (AMISOM) in Mogadishu.
Somali political observers believe Al Shabab is the main
obstacle to President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed's new government seeking to
bring peace and central rule to the country, which has been without an
effective government since 1991.
However, there is optimism among members of the
international community that President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed's government
would be able to make progress in stabilizing the nation. This was reinforced
with news this week that the Africa Union is presenting the new Somali
administration with $1 million in seed money to begin the process of restoring
peace to Mogadishu as well as to other parts of the country.