Death toll rises to 120 after three days of fighting in central Somalia

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Death toll rises to 120 after three days of fighting in central Somalia

MOGADISHU, Somalia – The death toll in the ongoing fighting between the Ahlu Sunna Wal Jama’a [ASWJ] and the Somali national army [SNA] rose to 120 as the United Nations calls for a ceasefire and tolerance between actors.

Senior ASWJ officials said the fighting had also displaced thousands of people in the area, with the town of Guriel the most affected. ANS troops recently recaptured the city from the Sufi militia.

Analysts said the ongoing fighting would derail the common fight against Al-Shabaab militants, which continue to wreak havoc in the Horn of Africa nation, which has suffered from internal conflict for several years.

“At least 120 people have died and 600 have been injured on both sides,” ASWJ’s Hassan Yare told Reuters on Monday, adding that his group intended to fight until the death of their “last man”. .

Ahmed Shire Falagle, Minister of Information for Galmudug State, said 16 government soldiers were killed and 45 wounded during the three days of fighting. He did not know how many casualties the other side had suffered, but said the armed group had been cornered and government forces hoped “to finish them off in the next few hours.”

Since Saturday, the parties have been fighting each other, with both sides claiming victory. According to the United Nations, more than 150,000 people have been displaced too far from their homes.

The ASWJ fought against Al-Shabaab, not until 2020, when the government began fighting the group, resulting in massive losses. The group temporarily declared a ceasefire, before resurfacing a few months ago.

The ASWJ chief told Reuters that the federal government had failed to end the al-Shabaab insurgency and that security was deteriorating in Galmudug state. The government accuses ASWJ of operating without its consent, a claim the armed group has not denied.

Earlier this month, Federal forces launched what they called a pre-emptive attack on ASWJ here. ASWJ retaliated by capturing Guriceel, where they were greeted by residents. Galmudug State Security Minister Ahmed Moalim Fiqi resigned earlier this month, accusing federal officials of refusing his calls not to attack the ASWJ.

The government insists that the ASWJ is keen to destabilize the efforts made by the administration in the fight against Al-Shabaab and general governance. ASWJ insists on its willingness to fight Al-Shabaab militants.

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