A moderate Islamist group, Ahlu Sunna wal-Jamea, has vowed to challenge the al Shabaab, the radical Islamist group opposing the Transitional Federal Government.
Sheikh Abukar Ahmed Ali of the moderate group said his fellow council members of Ahlu Sunna have moved to Mogadishu to fight against the radical Islamists.
He said militants loyal to the group are now ready to start operations in the Somali capital and other regions in Somalia.
Sheikh Abukar said the recent move by al Shabaab militants of destroying religious shrines and tombs of sheikhs has prompted Ahlu Sunna followers to fight back.
Last week, followers of Ahlu Sunna staged a demonstration in Mogadishu, condemning the destruction of the shrines.
Ahlu Sunna wal-Jamea signed an accord with the Transitional Federal Government on March 15, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The two parties agreed to combine their military might to defeat radical Islamists, chiefly al Shabaab.
Meanwhile, al Shabaab fighters earlier today captured Mataban town, 390 km north of Mogadishu from Ahlu Sunna.
Residents, however, told the Nation that the moderate Islamists put up a spirited fight and recaptured the town.
“The forces of Ahlu Sunna have arrived in full power,” said Hussein Sheikh Abdallah, a resident in Mataban district.
“Al Shabaab fighters retreated to Beledweyne district from where they had came from early in the morning,” he added.
Briefing the media through tele-conference, Sheikh Abdullahi Abdurahman Abu Yusuf Al-qadi, the spokesman of Ahlu Sunna wal-Jamea in Central Somalia, said that he and his force are in Mataban district.
He said his group was setting up a more ambitious plan to eradicate al Shabaab militants from southern and central regions of Somalia.
“We shall let all Somalis and the media know about Ahlu Sunna’s plans to clear the southern and central regions of Somalia of radical Islamists,” said Sheikh Yusuf Al-qadi.