From: Berhane Habtemariam (Berhane.Habtemariam@gmx.de)
Date: Wed Sep 09 2009 - 15:34:23 EDT
Somalia: Army commander says insurgents have taken Beletwein
9 Sep 9, 2009 - 7:08:43 AM
BELETWEIN, Somalia Sep 9 (Garowe Online) - An army commander in Somalia has
said that the interim government has lost control of a strategic town in the
central regions to insurgents, Radio Garowe reports.
Gen. Muktar Hussein Afrah, who commanded Somali government forces in
Beletwein, capital of Hiran region, told reporters Wednesday that the town
is under the control of Al Shabaab and Sheikh Abdirahman Ibrahim Ma'ow,
Hiran's Islamist governor who recently withdrew support to the Somali
"The governor [Ma'ow] has joined Al Shabaab and we have left the town," Gen.
Currently, Al Shabaab insurgents control the western neighborhoods of
Beletwein while the town's eastern section is empty of soldiers or
The army commander defended the decision to withdraw government forces from
Beletwein, saying that he listened to the advice of community leaders and
aims to protect the public from continued violence.
"We want to show the public that Sheikh Abdirahman [Ibrahim Ma'ow] is a man
who wants instability in Hiran region," Gen. Afrah added.
Beletwein is located near the international boundary between Somalia and
Ethiopia. Last month, after Ethiopian troops briefly seized control of
Beletwein, Sheikh Ma'ow declared that he will no longer support the Somali
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