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Somalia: Somalian towns occupied by Islamic militants

01 November 2016

Islamic al-Shabaab militants have occupied a number of towns in Somalia, after Africa Union forces pulled out. According to the BBC, Ethiopian soldiers representing the African Union mission in Somalia were withdrawn from a number of towns. Ethiopia has claimed this is the result of a lack of funding, after the EU reduced their support for the mission by 20 per cent. As troops withdrew from several bases, al-Shabaab militants moved in, causing residents to flee.

Meanwhile it is reported that some 60 Pro-Islamic State militants briefly occupied Qandala, a big town in the semi-autonomous region of Puntland. They entered the town without any resistance. According to Reuters, Abdirahman Hussein, a fisherman, reported that "We just saw Daesh with their black banner as we were fishing. They said to us: 'Do not panic, we will rule you according to the Islamic sharia (law)'."

The threat of a a military response from the government appears to have prompted the militants to withdraw, but with no African peacekeepers present, the threat to the people in the region from both IS splinter groups and al-Shabaab fighters is deeply worrying.

'Free Somalia from all Christians'

Somalia is number seven on the Open Doors World Watch List. For the few hundred underground Christians in the country, life is perilous enough in government-controlled areas. In areas which are dominated by militants, life is even worse. Al-Shabaab has declared it 'wants Somalia free of all Christians' and has recently launched attacks across the border into Kenya.

Islamic State has for some time now tried to make inroads into Somalia and to become more powerful than al-Shabaab. Analysts fear that the rivalry between the two groups will make an already violent country even more dangerous.

Source: BBC; Reuters; Independent

Please pray:

  • That the Holy Spirit would comfort and encourage underground Christians as they face even greater isolation
  • For progress towards peace in Somalia, and for wisdom for authorities
  • For God's grace to our brothers and sisters in neighbouring Kenyan border towns who regularly bear the brunt of al-Shabaab anger.

More News from Somalia:

Find out more about persecution in Somalia.