Saturday, June 22, 2013
Six members of a Somali Islamist militia were killed Thursday in internal violence in Barawe, a port town south of Mogadishu under the group’s control, witnesses said, one day after the group attacked a UN compound.
The internal warfare was a sign of worsening tensions within the al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Shabaab militia. Signs have been growing of a split with an alliance forming against leader Ahmed Abdi Godane. Two of the dead militants were foreigners, residents said by telephone.
The group on Wednesday killed 11 people at the UN compound in Mogadishu. Seven al-Shabaab fighters were also killed as African Union and Somali government troops retook the UN building in an hour-long firefight.
At least four foreigners, including two South African contractors, were among Wednesday’s dead along with four Somalis employed at the UN. Three civilians died in the heavy exchanges of gunfire, and 18 people were being treated in hospital for their injuries, medical sources said.
The death toll could rise further. Al-Shabaab said the attack was meant to “dislodge” the United Nations from Somalia. The group called the UN a “merchant of death and a satanic force of evil” that was a puppet of the United States.
The attack was a setback for Somalia, which has been using a period of relative calm in the past nine months to attract international aid organizations back to the war-torn country.
Al-Shabaab has been ceding ground to African Union and Somali government forces since 2011 but still controls areas in rural central and southern Somalia. The attack on the compound was condemned by the UN Security Council and the Somali government.
Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud admitted that the urban guerrilla warfare was not likely to abate soon and “we will sadly be subject to this sort of mindless terrorism for some time.”