Somali army recaptures Balad town from Al-Shabaab
The Somali National Army (SNA) on Friday recaptured Balad town north of Mogadishu after a brief takeover by the militant group, Al-Shabaab.
Mahad Osman, former Information Minister, and current Member of Parliament from Hirshabelle State confirmed to Xinhua the capture of the town.
“I have the report of two civilians killed, a computer school burnt down, a Balad radio station looted and a community leader’s vehicle was also burned down. There was heavy fighting between Somali National Army and the militants today,” Osman said.
He did not disclose the number of SNA casualties.
Balad residents told Xinhua that they saw mini-bus carrying wounded people to Jowhar town.
Al-Shabaab militants overran Balad town which is located about 30 kilometers north of Mogadishu in the mid-morning attack, taking control from government forces.
The insurgents later confirmed through its affiliated websites that they were in full control of the town.
Meanwhile, the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) expressed concern about the violent act of the militant group who confiscated the whole equipment of Radio Balad including the FM transmitters during the Friday attack.
According to the Director of Balad radio Abdihakim Hussein Islow, when militants took over the city on Friday morning they directly went towards the radio station premises, besieged and looted all the equipments including the radio transmitter and all computers in the building.
Islow said the extremists also ransacked the archive of the radio station and destroyed most of the broadcasting equipment.
“This is a strong demonstration of the gravity of media repression by Al-Shabaab. We are very concerned and condemning in the strongest terms at the obvious intent to crackdown and take away the only FM radio in Balad town,” Mohamed Ibrahim Moalimuu, NUSOJ Secretary General said in a statement.
Radio Balad was the only community radio station in the city and the residents will have no access to important news and entertainment they were used to.