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Somali army marches towards Buurhakaba and Diinsoor
Sabahi Online
Tuesday, August 07, 2012

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Somali Transitional Federal Government forces are marching towards the towns of Buurhakaba and Diinsoor in the Bay region, and expect weak resistance from al-Shabaab members hiding in surrounding villages.

Security sources say Somali and Ethiopian forces have moved from Deeynunay military base and have already reached the outskirts of Buurhakaba, 60 kilometres southeast of Baidoa, the region's capital. Eyewitnesses told Sabahi that joint forces have 10 kilometres remaining to reach central Buurhakaba.

As the allied forces approach, al-Shabaab militants have abandoned their positions at checkpoints to the west of the village for fear of being surrounded, Somali military sources say.

Ali Osman, a Somali army officer stationed in Baidoa, said units are advancing towards Buurhakaba to drive out al-Shabaab and militias who work with them. He said he expects allied forces to capture the town soon, as they are currently working to seal it off on several fronts.

"The sons of Somalia in the central and southern parts of the country denounce terrorism in any shape and form and would rather destroy it than co-exist with it," he told Sabahi. "Terrorism targets intellectuals and anyone that opposes its strange ideology in order to terrorise the region and the world. Our forces are ready to turn the satisfaction of al-Shabaab's leaders into grief and depression."

"It goes without saying that Somalis are capable of thwarting the efforts of anyone who tries to inflict harm on Somalia and its people and to destabilise the country," Osman said. "Somalia is not a possession of al-Shabaab or al-Qaeda. Somalia is for Somalis and they stand firm against turning their country into a safe haven for terrorists as they try to stir fear and bring chaos to the countries of East Africa."

If confrontations erupt in Buurhakaba, allied forces will use rockets and mortars to attack al-Shabaab fighters and their strongholds, said security analyst Muhsin Mohamed.

Mohamed told Sabahi that al-Shabaab will use the small mountains that surround Buurhakaba as shelters unless the military is quick to devise a comprehensive plan for the area.

Baidoa Deputy Mayor Sandheere Mohamed Istin said residents of Buurhakaba suffer from deteriorating living conditions and poor social services, especially water, electricity, health and education.

"We cannot leave our people to die of thirst and hunger in Buurhakaba. We will defeat al-Shabaab, which is crumbling and disintegrating as internal divisions grow," he told Sabahi. "We are organising our forces to achieve military gains throughout all the villages in the Bay region, some of which are still controlled by the enemies of peace."

"We are fighting to establish peace in our land, maintain stability and unity, and bring back a government structure. We do not want foreign fighters staying in our country to wreak violence and spread terrorism," Istin said. "We will take the battle to the heart of their hideouts and we will hunt down this gang of evil called al-Shabaab and its leadership that is too arrogant to put down their arms and surrender to our forces."

"Victory is near and we will see with our own eyes the fall of the titans of this group as we hunt them down like rats," he said. "We will unmask them to show their dirty and damned faces and we will bring down their false slogans and black banners, no matter how long it takes."

Abdullahi Geellow, a commercial truck driver who operates between Buurhakaba and Baidoa, said Buurhakaba has been suffering from high prices, power outages and water shortages. He said residents of the town have started a mass exodus towards the villages of Buur Eylo and Leego to escape the anticipated conflict.

Geellow told Sabahi that he saw hundreds of Somali and Ethiopian troops armed with heavy artillery marching towards Buurhakaba. "On the main road connecting Baidoa with Buurhakaba, I saw troops slowly advancing and finalising their war strategies. I also saw military convoys raising the blue Somali flag with the white star in the middle," he said.
Al-Shabaab expected to lose Diinsoor

Somali troops backed by the Ethiopian army are also on the road to Diinsoor, 100 kilometres west of Baidoa.

On Saturday (August 4th), Somali troops defended Qansah Dhere, 20 kilometres from Diinsoor, from an al-Shabaab attack, Somalia's Garowe Online reported. Qansah Dhere Mayor Adan Abdi Adan said 13 al-Shabaab fighters and two Somali soldiers were killed in the confrontation.

Bay Governor Abdifatah Hasan Gesey called the confrontation a "big defeat" for al-Shabaab.

Diinsoor Commissioner Osman Mohamed Abdi has promised to deliver a decisive battle against al-Shabaab to drive it out and allow government forces to take full control of the town.

"Our forces are approaching Diinsoor and we will attack unless the al-Shabaab militias and their foreign fighters abandon their positions," Abdi told Sabahi. "We will break their backs to prevent them from catching their breath or regrouping."

He stressed the importance of deploying military intelligence personnel among livestock herders, as they can gather information before the troops attack the town. Abdi said this will weaken the military infrastructure of al-Shabaab, which has tried to impose economic sanctions on the residents of Bay province by closing down overland routes leading to Mogadishu.

Abdi called on all militants living in the Bay and Bakool regions to start a dialogue and put down their weapons so they can safely rejoin their families.

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