Al-Shabaab briefly seizes town in central Somalia

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Al-Shabaab briefly seizes town in central Somalia

MOGADISHU, Somalia – Al-Shabaab militants took over a strategic town in central Somalia on Monday, albeit temporarily, in a drastic move that could still raise questions about the ability of Somali government forces to deal effectively with incidents of insecurity.

The al-Qaida-linked group seized Matabaan, a key town in the Hiran region on Monday, according to residents who spoke to Axadleby phone. The activists raised their black banners above the police and administration offices in Matabaan to show their arrival.

According to reports, activists temporarily took control of the town when police officers from Galmadug tasked with monitoring the area left for unknown reasons. Once the Somali National Army [SNA] seizes important towns, they hand them over to other security forces.

The latest reports from the town of Matabaann indicate that al-Shabaab fighters have left the town as government troops mobilize in Guriel to move towards the area. Before leaving, the militants reportedly destroyed the town’s police station by detonating explosives.

This development comes just days after government forces in Guriel clashed with Ahla Sunna Wal Jamaa [ASWJ] in the region, resulting in the deaths of dozens of people. The ASWJ militia was once an ally of Somalia’s federal government before cutting ranks.

Somali government battles al-Shabaab militants with help from African Union mission forces [AMISOM] In the region. Although the troops failed to completely defeat Al-Shabaab, significant gains were made.

ONLINE AXADLE

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