At least 12 people were killed and 30 others wounded on Tuesday when a moderate Islamist group clashed with Somali government troops in central Somalia, according to witnesses.
The clashes started when fighters with Ahlu Sunna Wal Jama’a attacked government bases in the town of Guri-El, about 400 kilometers north of the capital, Mogadishu.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a witness said government troops were driven out of the town. A VOA reporter in the area said locals told him the town is under the “full control” of Ahlu Sunna Wal Jama’a.
The group previously assisted the Somali government in fighting the Islamist militant group al-Shabab. Tuesday’s attack followed a simmering dispute over Ahlu Sunna’s representation in local and national government.
The government denied the group’s request to have power as an Islamic entity, saying its members should seek power through their respective clans. It also wants the group’s militia to be integrated into the national forces.
Government troops seized Guri-El from Ahlu Sunna in December.