MOGADISHU (Somaliguardian) – Government troops and Galmudug regional forces attacked Ahlu Sunnah fighters on several fronts on Saturday in the town of Guriel in central Somalia, in what is likely to be a long and fiercely contested offensive.
The campaign, which began at dawn, brought together the army, Galmudug regional forces and members of local police.
Residents have fled over the past days after allied forces approached the town from multiple directions, triggering tensions with fighters of the Sufi, who have begun to set up defense lines in the town and mobilize for a new showdown.
Mortar shells fired by the group’s fighters struck positions of the allied forces on the outskirts of the town on Friday in what was likely aimed to repel their advance, though casualties have not been immediately known. read more
Both sides exchange heavy gunfire as fighting intensifies by the hour, with government troops and Galmudug forces pushing towards areas in the south of the town where most of the gun battle has taken place.
It came after mediation efforts by local traditional leaders came to an abysmal failure. ASWJ and regional authorities blame each other for the tensions that have riven the region in recent weeks.
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