The regional capital of the southern Middle Juba region, Bu’aale, was captured on Tuesday by the militia of Juba Valley Alliance (JVA), local sources in Kismayo, 500 km south of Mogadishu, told IRIN. The latest round of fighting puts Bu’aale, 200 kms north of Kismayo, in the hands of militia believed to support the Mogadishu interim government, Somali sources said.
Bu’aale was captured last month by militia led by general Muhammad Sa’id Hirsi Morgan of the Somali Reconciliation and Restoration Council (SRRC). The SRRC is a grouping of Southern factions opposed to the Transitional National Government (TNG), while the Kismayo-based JVA is a pro-TNG grouping of the Ogaden, Marehan and Habar Gedir clans. The JVA expelled the SRRC militia led by Morgan from Kismayo on 7 August - just a day after they had taken the town. Attempts by IRIN to obtain comment from the Baidoa-based SRRC were unsuccessful.
Meanwhile, local sources in Kismayo said the town was returning to normal, three weeks after the heavy fighting. A local businessman, Abdinadif Hashi Dore, told IRIN that while there had been some apprehension after the expulsion of the SRRC, the town was settling down. He said businesses were operating normally, and all communications with the rest of Somalia had resumed.