GOOBJOOG NEWS|GURIEL: Galmudug and federal forces clashed with Ahlu Sunna Waljamaa fighters Saturday morning following weeks of military build-up around the besieged town amid initial reports of fresh displacements of populations.
The joint forces entered Guriel town Friday night according to multiple sources ending attempts to settle the unfolding crisis through dialogue. Guriel is located about 65km southwest of the state capital Dhusamareb.
Sources and journalists in the town said the fighting started in neighbourhoods within the town but there were no initial casualty reports. Ahlu Sunna has been holding the central Somalia town for about a month now since it dislodged the state administration.
The UN said last week over 100,000 had been displaced as a result of the unyielding stand-off between the two sides. The onset of fresh fighting now risks more displacements in light of an already fragile humanitarian situation. The UN humanitarian agency OCHA has indicated the area is already facing a drought and water shortages.
Former Galmudug security minister Ahmed Fiqi warned against military action and accused President Ahmed Qoorqoor of ‘choosing the warpath’. He (Fiqi) quit as a result and further termed the planned military offensive as an attempt to destablise Galmudug and secure outgoing president Mohamed Farmaajo extended stay in office.
Several local leaders and clan elders have however pushed for a forceful eviction of Ahlu Sunna from Guriel. The town is one of the most established local government units in Galmudug state and generates considerable revenue for the state government.
Ahlu Sunna captured Guriel town on October 1 following fighting with Glamudug and federal forces days earlier in Bohol location in the outskirts of Dhusamareb.