KISMAYO, Somalia Oct 5 (Garowe Online) -
At least 17 people were killed in southern Somalia during a series of battles overnight Sunday and Monday morning, Radio Garowe reports.
The fighting erupted Sunday night in Janay Abdalla village around 50km from the southern port of Kismayo between two Somali rebel factions, Al Shabaab and Hizbul Islam.
Again, on Monday morning, renewed clashes erupted around Janay Abdalla village with unconfirmed reports saying Al Shabaab fighters were pushed back.
Most of the 17 dead victims were fighters, but local sources said some civilians were among 20 wounded persons. Hundreds of civilians have fled the area.
Sheikh Hassan Yakub, the Al Shabaab spokesman in Kismayo, confirmed the fighting to reporters but declined to mention casualties on their side.
"The fighting last night and this morning [Monday] was very intense and both sides have suffered," Sheikh Yakub told reporters in Kismayo.
Wounded persons were brought to medical centers in Kismayo and Afmadow, a town located northwest of Kismayo near the Kenyan border and controlled by Hizbul Islam.
Reliable sources tell Garowe Online that Hizbul Islam fighters captured 8 Al Shabaab members during the fighting, including three wounded fighters. A foreign fighter described as a Ugandan national was captured wounded, according to unconfirmed reports attributed to Hizbul Islam sources.
Further, Hizbul Islam fighters burned two armed trucks belonging to Al Shabaab and captured two other armed trucks during Monday's battle. Al Shabaab's spokesman neither confirmed nor denied the claims.
Sheikh Ahmed Madobe, the commander of Hizbul Islam rebels in Lower Jubba region, is reportedly leading Hizbul Islam forces on the ground and has vowed to recapture Kismayo.
Al Shabaab fighters captured members of Hizbul Islam during last Thursday's battle in Kismayo, when Al Shabaab seized control of the strategic port town and expelled Hizbul Islam fighters.
According to sources, Al Shabaab's administrators have appealed to clan leaders to bring members of Hizbul Islam wounded during Thursday's battle to be brought to the Kismayo hospital for treatment after pledging to keep the wounded fighters safe.
The armed clashes come on the heels of ongoing talks between the top leaders of Hizbul Islam and Al Shabaab in the outskirts of Mogadishu, the Somali capital.
Meanwhile, insurgent attacks in Mogadishu targeting Somali government forces and African peacekeepers (AMISOM) have decreased since the eruption of war between Hizbul Islam and Al Shabaab, two insurgent groups who have jointly waged an insurgency against the Somali government since May.
Sheikh Aweys and Al Shabaab 'disagree' over Kismayo
Source: Garowe Online