Al-Shabab Orders El-Dhere Residents to Vacate the Town

Residents of El-Dhere, Galguduud region, central Somalia, fled their homes Tuesday after militant al-Shabab ordered them to vacate the town.

The group is concerned that government forces and clan militias will take over the town in the coming days.

The order comes as the government takes control of Masagawaa town Sunday which is about 40 kilometers from El-Dhere.

Last month, the government accused al-Shabab of forcefully evicting civilian populations in the Middle Shebelle region’s town of Adan Yabal. The group rejected the claim.

The government forces have been gaining ground on Al-Shabab. Aerial strikes have forced the group to abandon their defensive positions.

Some security observers say the group has been ordering local residents to flee with them in the hope that the presence of civilians will cause the government and international forces to stop attacking them by air.

In August, the Somali national army and clan militias began a military campaign to drive the militant group out of central Somalia. For 15 years, the al-Qaida-linked terror group has waged a bloody insurgency against the fragile, internationally recognized federal government.