As 3,000 Ethiopian soldiers depart, militia groups are battling to take more control from the weak transitional government.
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Fierce fighting between rival Islamist militias left at least 25 dead in central Somalia on Sunday, as a struggle for the heart of this war-torn nation rages in the power vacuum left by departing Ethiopian troops.
The BBC reports that the hard line Al Shabab – regarded by the United States as a terrorist group – faced off against a "local militia," killing 30 and injuring at least 30 more. The fighting took place in Guriel, 310 miles north of the capital, Mogadishu.
Agence France-Presse (AFP) put the number of wounded at more than 50. It identified Al Shabab's rivals as members of the more moderate group, the Ahlu Sunna Wal-jamaah. It said the two rival militias had already battled several times in December in a struggle for control of Guriel.
Garowe Online, the website of a radio station based in northern Somalia, reported that the fighting broke out around 5:30 a.m. Sunday when Al Shabab forces attacked a checkpoint manned by the moderate group. It claimed the moderates are warlords who are funded and armed by Ethiopia.
Voice of America reports that some Somalis were celebrating after Al Shabab's apparent defeat in Sunday's skirmish. It quoted a senior officer of the moderate militia, Sheik Abdulkarim Risak, as saying his group is determined to drive Al Shabab out of the country.