We recount the major events leading to the clashes and afterwards, we also documented other events relating to mediation efforts and claims from warring sides.
According to our investigations and reliable hospital sources, some 40 people, mostly civilians were killed in the clashes, and over 60 others were wounded, not to mention the destruction of properties and displacement of hundreds of residents.
Below is the chronology of evolving events of Gur El, the ill fated town that changed hands several times.
December 11, 2014: Government officials including Mahad Salad the then deputy minister for foreign affairs and international cooperation and General Mohamed Roble Osman , the commander of third battalion of Somali National Army travel to Guri El town, but they face standoff with Ahlussunnah Wal Jamaah fighters. After a while, they manage to enter the town and talk to the residents in a gathering.
December 12, 2014: At least 10 people die after heavy clashes between government forces and Ahlu Sunnah fighters in Guri El. Government forces withdraw from the town. Ahlussunnah Wal Jamaah take control of the town, while government forces seize neighboring town of Dhusamareb in return.
December 15, 2015: Government forces capture Guri El town without resistance, as Ahlussunnah Wal Jamaah fighters withdraw from the town to different directions. They apparently regrouped in areas out skirts of the town.
December 16, 2015: The administration of Himan and Heeb announce plans to send mediation envoys to the affected areas.
December 28, 2014: The leadership of Ahlussunnah Wal Jamaah welcomes plans for mediation by neutral actors.
January 1, 2015: Hundreds of Guri El residents stage protests against government forces in the town; they demand the return of Ahlussunnah Wal Jamaah fighters. This prompts government soldiers to open fire on the protestors killing two and wounding three others.
February 10, 2015: Somali president Hassan Sheik Mohamoud visits Dhuusa-Mareb, Galgadud where he speaks at a reconciliation conference taking place there, where he appeals for calm.
February 10, 2015: Fighting reignites between government forces and Ahlu Sunnah fighters in Guri El after the latter launched an attack on government positions in Guri El. Ahlussunnah Wal Jamaah eventually takes control of Guri El town. Government forces withdraw from the town. The fighting claims 20 lives and more than 35 others are wounded.
February 12, 2015: Hundreds of Guri El residents flee from the town fearing for their lives. This comes as the administration of Ahlussunnah Wal Jamaah says they hold government responsible for all the losses in the fighting. They say they have been administrating the town for 7 years and managed to repel Alshabab attacks on the town only to be attacked by the Somali government forces.
February 12, 2015: Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali appeals for cease fire between the warring sides of Guri El. He warns that fighting might give Alshabab a chance to regroup.
February 12, 2015: Fighting restarts in Guri El after government forces attack Ahlussunnah Wal Jamaah positions in the town, the fighting claims nine lives, and Ahlussunnah Wal Jamaah manages to hold on to their positions while government forces retreat.
February 13, 2015: Peace delegation from Dhusamareb comprising of traditional elders reaches Guri El town to mediate the warring factions.
February 14, 2015: Galgadud governor Hussein Wehliye Irfo claims that fighters in Guri El do not belong to Ahlu Sunnah, but a separate faction who are advancing their own agendas.
February 14, 2015: Ahlussunnah Wal Jamaah and government signs ceasefire, this is facilitated by traditional elders.
February 24, 2015: Yet other fighting breaks out between government and Ahlussunnah Wal Jamaah, this time government forces attack Ahlussunnah Wal Jamaah, violating the ceasefire signed just 10 days before. More than 20 people, mostly civilians are wounded in the fighting.
February 26, 2015: Abdi Nure Siyad, a former warlord accuses the government of sponsoring the fighting in Guri El, he also denies reports that militias loyal to him are taking part in the fighting alongside Ahlussunnah Wal Jamaah.
February 28, 2015: One doctor, who couldn’t be named for security reasons, tells Goobjoog News that the death toll stands at 40 and 53 are wounded.
March 1, 2015: Ahlussunnah Wal Jamaah fighters attack government positions outside Guri El town. The fighting lasts for a short time, no casualties are reported.