Al-Shabab seize base from rebellious faction in southwestern Somalia  

0
Al-Shabab seizes base from rebellious faction in southwestern Somalia

Last month, the US State Department confirmed it withdrawing its reward offer for Sheikh Mukhtar Robow who along with hundreds of loyal fighters abandoned the group at the height of an internal purge by the group’s deceased leader Ahmed Abdi Godane in 2014 which saw several of the group’s top leaders killed in the process.

By Jeff Mwaura, jeff@alleastafrica.com

NAIROBI – Fighters from the Al-Qaeda linked al-Shabab groups have seized control of a military base from another rebellious faction led by the group’s former deputy leader after the United States has dropped a $5m bounty placed on information leading to the capture him.

Last month, the US State Department confirmed it withdrawing its reward offer for Sheikh Mukhtar Robow who along with hundreds of loyal fighters abandoned the group at the height of an internal purge by the group’s deceased leader Ahmed Abdi Godane in 2014 which saw several of the group’s top leaders killed in the process.

A US drone has killed Godane in an airstrike in southern Somalia in September 2014.

Wednesday’s large scale al-Shabab attack on Abaal, a village in Bay region which served Robow’s key base saw hundreds of fighters stormed the village, forcing rival fighters to retreat into a nearby jungle area.

Robow is believed to have over 700 well-armed fighters under his command, making it difficult for al-Shabab to capture him, something the group is trying to achieve.

According to eye-witness accounts and social media postings on Wednesday, al-Shabab reinforced its presence in Robow’s former base and surrounding area, arriving with battlewagons and hundreds of fighters.

The development comes amid reports of secret talks between Mr. Robow and Somali government after the United States has dropped a $5m bounty placed on information leading to the capture him.

According to officials privy with the ongoing talks, Robow has set various of condition for his possible surrender to the government. Among the conditions under consideration is to give the former powerful al-Shabab leader a top position in the UN-backed Somali government.

According to analysts, Robow’s defection could pose a major challenge to al-Shabab, given the extensive information about the group in his possession, something they are trying to eliminate.

For years, Robow, one of the group’s founders has been the face of the group, having served as the group’s spokesman and deputy leader. He was also a close ally of the late American Jihadist Omar Hammami who was killed by fighters loyal to the late al-Shabab leader Ahmed Abdi Godane.

Hammami was killed in September 2013 days after another close ally of Robow Ibrahim Haji Miad, one of the group’s founders was also killed as parts of an internal purge by Godane who was trying to reassert his authority within the group.

(Additional reporting by Alleastafrica reporter in Mogadishu, editing by Judy Maina in Nairobi, Kenya) 

Copyright ©2017 Alleastafrica.com All rights reserved. The information contained in Alleastafrica.com may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without the prior written authority of Alleastafrica.com

LEAVE A REPLY