Islamist groups vying for control of Southern port city

Kismayo, Somalia (Somalilandpress)-A major rift has formed between Al-Shabab and the Raas Kambonii Brigade over the control of Kismayo, the capital of Lower Jubba Region in southern Somalia, and residents are anticipating armed clashes.

The two militant Islamist groups had banned together to drive the Jubba Valley Alliance, the now-defunct militia allied with the Transitional Federal Government and headed by Col Barre Hirale, out of Kismayo in August 2008. But now, the two groups are vying against each other over the control of Kismayo city.

The Kambonii faction, which is headed by Sheikh Hasan Turki, says that the mandate of Kismayo’s Al-Shabab-dominated Islamic administration has expired. But Al-Shabab insists that the administration should continue to rule Kismayo.

The disagreement started when Sheikh Ahmad Madobe, one of Kambonii’s senior leaders, wrote a letter to Al-Shabab demanding that it hand over control of the Kismayo administration, arguing that the transfer of power was long overdue. Al-Shabab rejected the demand, saying it would rather fight than hand over control of the Kismayo administration to Kambonii.

Sheikh Ahmad Madobe, who has a lot of support in Waamo regions of Gedo, Lower Jubba, and Middle Jubba, sent a distress call [[ON WHAT DAY? THIS WEEK?]] to towns in his home region, including Afmadow and Dhoobley. He has now mobilized his fighters to stage military maneouvers from Dhoobley, which lies close to the border with Kenya.

In response, Abdirahman Muhammad Ali (Filow), the commander of Al-Shabab forces in Lower Jubba and Middle Jubba regions, has put Al-Shabab fighters on heightened alert and ordered them to execute anyone found engaging in activities against Al-Shabab.

Over the past few nights, leaflets signed by Kambonii members declaring that there is no administration in Kismayo and advising Al-Shabab to leave the city have been found scattered in the port city. It appears that fighting might break out in Kismayo between the two Islamic groups.

Senior leaders of the two groups have not issued any statements.

Anole, an armed Islamist group that has close links with both Al-Shabab and Raas Kambonii, has been trying to mediate between the two. Worried that armed clashes will lead to the weakening of Islamist forces, Anole does not want the two factions to come to blows.

Al-Shabab and Kambonii jointly created the current Islamic administration in Kismayo last year with the understanding that its tenure would be temporary, lasting six months. Kambonii supports the establishment of an all-inclusive administration elected by the people, but Al-Shabab insists on continuing to rule the Kismayo administration.

Sheikh Hasan Turki, the father of armed Islamist movements, has mediated between the two groups, but several attempts to form a broad-based administration have failed.

Now, local residents are increasingly fearful that fighting will break out between the two armed groups.

Somalilandpress

Mogadishu-Somalia

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