Over 20 killed in central Somalia clash

Over 20 killed in central Somalia clash
# 11 February 2015 01:29 (UTC +04:00)

The fighting happened when government forces exchanged fire with the Islamist group AhluSunnah WalJamaah in Guricel town, 400 km north of the capital Mogadishu.

Government foreces was trying to resist the takeover of Guricel town by the group.

"We can confirm the death of 20 people and 35 others wounded," Ali Omar, a medical officer in a local hospital told Xinhua.

Hassan Nor, a resident told Xinhua that several families had fled the town in fear of the ongoing fight. "We left our homes even without food because the fighting had intensified by afternoon. Many other people have run away from the homes."

An official of the Ismamist group told the media that they had taken over the town, and were now in full control. The government has, however, not commented on the situation.

Abdulah Godax Bare, a parliament member and former interior minister, has called on government and the group to negotiate and reach a solution over inclusion in government. "I call upon the government of Somalia and the leadership of AhluSunnah to come to the table and talk on inclusivity."

Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud had earlier in the day opened a reconciliation conference in a nearby town of Dhusumareb and met with local leaders over the incessant conflict in the area which has claimed several lives.

AhluSunnah WalJamaah is a moderate Islamist group in Somalia which has been fighting alongside government to defeat the militant group Al-Shabaab. However, they have in the recent past fallen out with government over their quest to share power.

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