Islamist insurgents are closing in on
Reuters says President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed’s forces control only parts of the city and central region after two weeks of fighting. Human rights workers in the Horn of Africa nation say the clashes have killed at least 172 civilians and wounded 528.
Hardline al Shabaab rebels seized Jowhar yesterday and witnesses said hundreds of gunmen from another insurgent group — Hizbul Islam — marched into nearby Mahaday today and took control without firing a shot.
“We have captured the town peacefully,” Hassan Mahdi, Hizbul Islam’s spokesman, said by telephone.
Ahmed’s UN-backed administration is the 15th attempt to set up central rule in
Jowhar, 90 km from
“Masked Islamists are on the streets,” resident Fatima Hussein told Reuters. “They are not speaking to anyone … there was no fighting, the pro-government forces left last night.”
Officials in Ahmed’s administration could not immediately be reached for comment.
The last two years of fighting have killed at least 17 700 civilians and driven more than 1 million from their homes. More than 3 million people survive on emergency food aid.
In the central town of
“We have carried his bones and some of his burnt flesh and had a burial this morning,” resident Ahmed Farah told Reuters.
“They always do this when they want to terrorise residents.”
Somali pirates have taken advantage of the chaos to launch ever bolder attacks on shipping. Nearly 30 hijackings this year have put it on course to be the worst ever.
The bloodshed has also forced many Somalis to flee west across the porous, desert border into
A charity said on Monday more than 270,000 refugees in
Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said some 5000 people were arriving every month at three camps in
“The situation is simply scandalous,” said Joke Van Peteghem, MSF head of mission in
“These refugees have risked everything to escape the fighting in