Somalia: Renewed clashes in Baidoa

News and Press Release
Originally published
NAIROBI, 30 January (IRIN) - Fighting resumed in the southern town of Baidoa on Wednesday when forces loyal to the Rahanweyn Resistance Army (RRA) chairman, Hasan Muhammad Nur Shatigadud, attacked troops loyal to the RRA faction of Shaykh Aden Madobe and Muhammad Ibrahim Habsade, his former deputies.
The Madobe/Habsade forces are currently in control of Baidoa, a local source told IRIN on Thursday.

Shatigadud forces had attacked a checkpoint southwest of the town manned by Madobe/Habsade forces, and the fighting had spread from there to an area near a football stadium, said the source.

"At least six people were killed and many others wounded," he said. "Most of the dead were militia, but many civilians were also wounded."

Many of the casualties, some in a serious condition, have been taken to Baidoa hospital and to people's homes. However, the hospital was said to be "completely devoid of medicines, and there are no doctors to speak of", a business source told IRIN. "Many of the wounded are dying of treatable injuries simply due to lack of proper medical attention."

A humanitarian source told IRIN no supplies had been delivered to the hospital for months due to insecurity. However, the ICRC head of delegation for Somalia, Daniel Duvillard, told IRIN that his agency sends surgical material to the hospital on a monthly basis. "We send surgical material for a 25 bed hospital (Baidoa hospital capacity) by road," he said

The fighting subsided later on Wednesday, with the town still in the hands of the Madobe/ Habsade forces. Shatigadud's forces were in the village of Labtan Jirow, some 40 km from Baidoa, said the business source. All international aid agencies operating in Baidoa evacuated their expatriate staff some time ago and they have not returned.

Many people are closely observing the Somali peace talks in Eldoret, Kenya, regarding them as a yardstick by which to measure the general situation, a Somali observer told IRIN.

"For as long as the talks continue, we may see low-level clashes and banditry, but nothing serious, but if they fail, then all-out factional fighting may resume," he warned.

The fighting in Baidoa was caused by a split within the senior ranks of the RRA, which controls much of the Bay and Bakol regions of southwestern Somalia. The town changed hands numerous times between July and December last year.


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