- Insurgents have reportedly taken over a town in southern Somalia from pro-government militiamen following a fierce fighting that killed a dozen people, reports have said today.
The Al Shabaab rebels are reported to have reclaimed the town of Bulahawa in a come back hit against the pro-government and supported group after being chased out earlier this week.
Reports quoted local people saying casualties were both from the civilians as well as the armed groups.
Islamist insurgents, some linked to the al Qaeda have recently stepped up attacks against the Somali government, demanding strict enforcement of the Islamic principles.
The weak transitional government of Somalia with the backing of the international community controls some larger parts of the capital Mogadishu as well as parts of the central region.
Figures from both the UN and other sources say that violence in Somalia has killed more than 18,000 civilians since the start of 2007 and uprooted another 1 million.
The radical Islamist group, al-Shabaab, which controls large portions of the country, last month ordered the closure of three United Nations agencies, accusing them of going against Islamic principles and practices.
In a statement issued by the group, it called the three agencies, the United Nations Development Programme, the United Nations Department of Safety and Security and the United Nations Political Office for Somalia, ‘enemies of Islam’.
It accused the three agencies of working against the Somali Muslim people and against the establishment of an Islamic state. “Some of these agencies have been found guilty of training and supporting the apostate government and its soldiers,” the group claimed in a statement.
Islamist groups including al-Shabaab and the Hisb-ul-Islam movement have gained control of most of southern and central Somalia in their bid to oust President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, who took the presidency in January this year following the UN brokered peace.
Since Ethiopia withdrew its troops in Somalia, the two Islamists militant groups have been unable to penetrate into key areas of the capital defended by AMISOM troops and tanks.
Al-Shabaab has been accused by the US of providing safe-haven and logistical support to al-Qaeda, the terrorist organisation led by Osama bin Laden.
There has not had a functioning central administration in Somalia, since the ouster of Mohamed Siad Barre, the former dictator, in 1991.
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