Friday, March 25, 2011

Hand grenade attack on Al-Shabaab

Mogadishu, March 25 - An unknown assailant hurled a hand grenade at Al-Shabaab fighters at a checkpoint in the Elesha Biyaha IDP camp outside the Somali capital late on Thursday killing at least 3 fighters and wounding 5 others in the first known grenade attack against the notorious militants in the Horn of African country.

Al-Shabaab militants immediately cordoned off the area and started arresting people on sight. Elesha Biyaha is the biggest IDP camp with tens of thousands of displaced families many of who fled from the capital Mogadishu. The area was initially controlled by the now dysfunctional Hizbul islam fighters who amalgamated into Al-Shabaab earlier this year.

Sources claim the grenade might have been thrown by jittery former militias of Hizbul Islam who are not happy with Al-Shabaab taking all the taxes they collect from trucks at the checkpoint.

"This is the first time for Al-Shabaab to have been attacked in Elesha Biyaha. People hate them here mainly because of their barbarism. If there is anywhere in Somalia where civilians will probably take arms against Al-Shabaab its here. I saw three dead Al-Shabaab fighters carried from the scene of the blast while 5 others were seriously wounded. I was peeping from my window as soon as I heard the blast," said an IDP who lives close to the checkpoint and who only gave his name as Abdi for fear of reprisal.

The militant group which has ties to Al-Qaeda is engaged in a bloody war with Somalia government forces supported by African Union peacekeepers from Uganda and Burundi. In the recent weeks and months Al-Shabaab has lost strategic locations in Mogadishu including Gaashandiga, the former Defence headquarters of Somalia which was the groups command base in Mogadishu and a major logistical hub.