Residents from the town of Barawa, Somalia are claiming a major battle has broken between two different al-Shabaab factions, leading to a significant gun-battle followed by a tense period of calm.
Details about the incident are scant, but reportedly it involves the power struggle between the group’s leader, Ahmed Godane, and a former spokesman who reportedly objects to ties with al-Qaeda.
Al-Shabaab dismissed the reports as “lies” and insists the group remains “united,” though it seems entirely possible that the fighting could’ve involved an off-shoot faction, as the group has always been loose-knit.
Barawa lies south along the coast from Mogadishu and north of Kismayo, deep in rebel-held territory. There is no way to independently confirm reports in the area, so it is unclear how big of a deal these reports are or if they indicate any sort of growing divide.