Opposition fighters in Somalia appear to have made a major comeback after being ousted by Somali government troops backed up by Ethiopian forces last year.
The fighters and remnants of the Islamic Courts Union first took the key port city of Kismayo and now they say they are making headway across southern Somalia, slowly wresting back from the government control of towns such as Dhoble, near the Kenyan border.
But a Somali government adviser says the opposition is exaggerating the extent of its alleged comeback.
“I think they are less powerful than they were before. But of course they always re-group in areas that are very simple for them to take over,” Yusuf Al Azhari told Al Jazeera.
Some Kismayo residents say they are optimistic the lawlessness there will end, just a week after opposition fighters seized the area from clan militias, but others are wary.
The last time the Islamic fighters controlled the city, we saw some violations .. We urge them not to repeat that again,” one elder in Kismayo told Al Jazeera.
Other residents have warned the fighters against imposing a strict Islamic code and to focus instead on achieving peace.
But many southern citizens appear to be expecting the opposition fighters to fulfil their promises of respecting tribal divisions in order to prevent pitfalls of the past.
Although accused by the United States of harbouring al-Qaeda fighters, the Islamic Courts Union is credited by some for bringing a degree of law and order to Somalia after its central government collapsed in 1991, giving way to an all out confrontation between various clan militias.