The chairman of the Rahanweyn Resistance Army (RRA), Col Hasan Muhammad Nur Shatigadud, is now in full control of the southern town of Baidoa, a local source told IRIN on Thursday.
Baidoa, which is the headquarters of the RRA, has been the scene of fierce factional fighting between two RRA factions over the past month. The fighting first broke out on 1 July between forces loyal to Shatigadud and those of his two deputies, Shaykh Adan Madobe and Muhammad Ibrahim Habsade, in an apparent power struggle.
According to the source, fighting resumed again on Wednesday morning and lasted about three hours. Forces loyal to Shatigadud managed to drive out those of Madobe and Habasade. "The entire town is now in the hands of Shatigadud," he said.
He went on to say that Madobe-Habsade forces had withdrawn from Baidoa and were reportedly regrouping. "They are in Goob-Gaduud Shabelow, 25 km southwest of Baidoa," he said.
Baidoa residents told IRIN the population would welcome an end to the fighting "no matter who wins".
"After what we have been through, those of us who are left welcome with open arms anything that will end this madness," said one. Baidoa has seen a large exodus of people fleeing the fighting over the past week.
Elders are now criss-crossing the town to make sure that armed militias do not take advantage of the situation by either robbing or killing innocent people. "They are trying to make sure that no-one is targeted because of who they may have supported in the fighting," sources said.
Baidoa is reported to be "eerily quiet" after days of heavy shelling and gunfire. "It is incredibly quiet with no-one on the streets, except armed militia," the sources added.
This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions