Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

DEBATE

Pakistan Protests: Democracy put to the test (part 2)

Read more

DEBATE

Pakistan Protests: Democracy put to the test

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Is Carla Bruni against a political comeback for Sarkozy?

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

'iVIOLATED'

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

France's Iliad considers fresh offer for T-Mobile

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Back to school!

Read more

WEB NEWS

USA: Thousands pay tribute to Michael Brown

Read more

ENCORE!

The French Maestro of Soul

Read more

FOCUS

US tobacco giants want lion's share of e-cigarette business

Read more

  • NATO plans new 'spearhead' force to counter Russia

    Read more

  • French clubs left behind as others spend big

    Read more

  • Arab media strike back at IS Islamists – with cartoons

    Read more

  • US military targets Somalia's al Shabaab Islamist group

    Read more

  • Boko Haram Islamists seize northeast Nigerian town

    Read more

  • Monaco’s Falcao leaves Ligue 1 for Man Utd

    Read more

  • UN backs Iraqi request for inquiry into IS militant crimes

    Read more

  • French education ministry picture sparks racist abuse

    Read more

  • Obama calls for higher wages amid 'revving' US economy

    Read more

  • Video: Ukraine’s children return to school as fighting rages on

    Read more

  • Americans detained in North Korea call for US help

    Read more

  • US urges Israel to reverse West Bank land seizure

    Read more

  • Lesotho PM calls for regional peacekeeping force after ‘coup’

    Read more

  • Ukrainian forces retreat from Luhansk airport after clashes

    Read more

  • Teddy Riner, France’s unstoppable judo champion

    Read more

  • Iraqi forces free Amerli in biggest victory over IS militants since June

    Read more

  • Anti-govt protesters briefly seize Pakistan's state TV

    Read more

Africa

Deadly clashes spread across war-torn country

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2009-08-20

Pro-government militiamen and al Shabaab insurgents have launched separate offensives in southern and central Somalia, witnesses say, as the bloodshed intensifies across the war-ridden country.

AFP - A fresh offensive by pro-government forces against extremist Shebab fighters killed at least 21 people, mainly combatants, on Thursday in central Somalia, officials and witnesses said.
   
Pro-government forces launched an attack on the town of Bulobarde, which is located some 200 kilometres (120 miles) north of Mogadishu and was previously controlled by the Shebab, an Al Qaeda-inspired organisation.
   
Several local residents and officials told AFP they had counted at least 21 bodies and said that the fighting was ongoing.
   
"They attacked us this morning with a large army but they sheepishly retreated and many of their fighters are strewn in the street now," Sheikh Mohamed Ibrahim, a local Shebab commander, told AFP by phone from the town.
   
"There is still some sporadic fighting in some parts of the town and we have counted at least 21 dead. The terrorists have suffered great losses in the battle today," said Colonel Adan Yusuf Mohamed, a Somali government military leader in the region.
   
According to residents, the government troops were assisted in their latest offensive by Ahlu Sunna wal Jamaa, an influential Sufi religious organisation which recently took up arms against the Shebab.
   
The latest clashes come amid a vast counter-offensive against Shebab strongholds in the centre and south of the Horn of Africa country.
   
An alliance of clan militias, government forces and Ahlu Sunna wal Jamaa fighters earlier this week recaptured two strategic towns from the Shebab without any fighting.
   
According to residents, the Islamist insurgents however on Wednesday wrested back control of the town of Bulohawo, which sits just across the border from the Kenyan town of Mandera.
   
Ahlu Sunna wal Jamaa and allied groups have recently inflicted serious losses on the Shebab, who had controlled much of central and southern Somalia in recent months.
   
Bulobarde is the main town on the road linking the capital Mogadishu to Beledweyn, a key city on the border with Ethiopia.
   
Residents said the fighting was the heaviest the town had seen in a long time and that both sides used heavy machine-guns and anti-aircraft weapons.
   
"The fighting has stopped for now but the warring sides are still facing off in one neighbourhood... I personally saw the bodies of 18 fighters and the death toll could be much higher," local resident Abdurahman Ali said.
   
Abdikarim Muktar, a grocer in the town, said the heaviest fighting occurred near a bridge over a river that divides the town.
   
"Most of the people died near the bridge where the fighting was fierce. The government forces were pushed back from that area," he said.
   
Earlier this week, the prime minister of Somalia's embattled transitional federal government (TFG) reshuffled the cabinet in an attempt to offer a tougher response to a bruising insurgency.
   
The Shebab and the more political Hezb al-Islam on May 7 launched a broad military offensive against the TFG in Mogadishu and other regions, leaving President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed's power hanging by thread.
   
Tuesday's reshuffle saw a new defence minister brought in and a powerful deputy appointed to bolster the government's war effort.

Date created : 2009-08-20

COMMENT(S)