Somalia: ASWJ Fighters Withdraw From Guriel After Days of Fierce Clashes


MOGADISHU (Somaliguardian) – Fighters of the Ahlu Sunnah Wal Jama’ah group withdrew from their positions in the town of Guriel in central Somalia on Tuesday night after four days of heavy fighting with the Somali army and regional forces that has riven the small town and displaced tens of thousands of people.

It came after mediation efforts led by a regional businessman and senator Abdi Hassan Awale Qaybdid, who had urged the government to allow the rival forces a safe passage out of the town.

At least 130 people were killed and more than 600 others wounded in the clashes over the past days. Among the dead are US and Turkish-trained commanders and soldiers, who had been equipped to fight the Islamist militant group Al-Shabaab.

Speaking on Tuesday, the president of Galmudug state Ahmed Qoorqoor said his administration would not accept efforts by Ahlu Sunnah leadership to undermine the region’s stability and sow division among its population.

The government deployed heavily armed US-trained special forces in the town to drive ASWJ from Guriel in one of the deadliest battles in the city’s recent history, a former regional minister said on Tuesday, who also accused Somali army chief of turning his focus away from the fight against Al-Shabaab.

Calm returned to the town on Wednesday after it saw a lull in the heavy fighting between the two sides on Tuesday evening.

In response to the reports of deaths of US-trained commanders in the battle, the United States said on Tuesday it would review its support to the elite force, which it has been training, funding and equipping over the past years.

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