Shabaab gather, recruit at border town

2012-01-03 14:05

Nairobi - Militants from the insurgent group al-Shabaab appeared to be gathering hundreds of fighters and attempting to recruit even more in villages outside a Somalia border town invaded by Ethiopian troops over the weekend, residents said on Monday.

Hundreds of Ethiopian troops moved into the Somali town of Beledweyne on Saturday, opening a third front against al-Shabaab militants, who also face Kenyan troops in Somalia's south and African Union troops in the capital, Mogadishu.

Residents in Beledweyne said on Monday that they welcome the presence of Ethiopia's military because it has forced al-Shabaab militants out of the town. But a resident in a nearby village said that militants were amassing hundreds of fighters in forests outside Beledweyne. Bearded, masked men also tried to persuade locals in the town of Bulo Burte to join what they were calling "holy jihad," the resident said.

"We fear they will conscript our children because they are asking for more fighters," said Elmi Kheyre, a local elder. "They also visited Quranic schools and asked teachers to convince students to join al-Shabaab. We fear rampant conscription of children and elderly people."

Ethiopian troops invaded Somalia in 2006, spawning fierce resistance and the militant group that has become al-Shabaab. But residents on Monday said that so far they welcome the Ethiopians' presence. Harsh punishments — lashings, amputations and stonings — and strict social rules enforced by al-Shabaab has eroded the group's popularity.

"We really feel like we are in a new world after al-Shabaab left us," Ali Abdullahi, a resident in Beledweyne, said by phone. "People are free. There is no longer any oppression and fear. The oppressors have left."

Residents say cafes and other social sites are crowded with people talking about their lives under al-Shabaab’s rule.

Final game

"Now people are feeling ... that al-Shabaab are gone for good," said Sadiya Hussein, a mother of three.

"If Ethiopians joined the war, we felt it's the final game for al-Shabaab. We ask the Ethiopians to avoid killing our people like they did before."

Control of Beledweyne has lurched back and forth between al-Shabaab and Somali government fighters and militias. In previous years when Ethiopian troops entered people fled and businesses, schools and mosques closed. Residents said on Monday that Ethiopian troops were mingling with locals in cafes and at businesses, showing some sort of sense of trust.

"Previously we feared we will be harmed by Islamists if we do business with Ethiopians," said Nor Sheik, who has a small shop. "But we can now do business with them because the Islamists are no more and will never return," he said, perhaps overly confidently.

US-backed Ethiopian troops moved into Somalia in 2006 at the invitation of the weak, the UN-backed Somali government. But the incursion was seen by many Somalis as an unpopular invasion. Ethiopians pulled out in early 2009, and there are fears that a new push by Somalia could be a propaganda coup for al-Shabaab.

Ethiopia in November said it was considering whether to contribute troops to the African Union force in Somalia. Kenya's parliament recently voted for its forces to join the AU force. That move is awaiting approval by the United Nations.

The central Somalia town of Beledweyne is about 30km from the border with Ethiopia. A commercial hub, it lies on a key road that links Mogadishu with northern Somalia.

- AP

Read more on:    al-shabaab  |  somalia  |  east africa
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
 

Zuma: Pray for peaceful polls

President Jacob Zuma has asked members of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God to pray for peaceful elections on 7 May.

 
 

Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Saturday Cape Town - 07:38 AM
    Road name: M3 Inbound
    EVENT - left lane closed between Rhodes Avenue and UCT
  • Saturday Constantia - 07:19 AM
    Road name: Rhodes Drive Both Ways
    ROAD CLOSED between Constantia Nek and Canterbury Road until 1300
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as kalahari.com’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Nokia E7

Your mobile office Real-time emails with Mail for Exchange. Easy access to...

From R3499.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Self-indulgence may be strong today. You may want to enjoy yourself to the fullest and share it with those that make you feel...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.