The Islamic State group captured Wednesday its first small town in Somalia. Dozens of ISIS militants took over the town of Qandala without any resistance and planted its signature black flag there, the New York Times reported.
"Qandala town fell into the hands of Daesh (Islamic State) this morning. Our soldiers were few and so could not fight longer," Qandala town commissioner Jama Mohamed Khuurshe said during a press conference. "I’m scared that these men will kill everyone — civilians, soldiers, officials."
Local law enforcement expressed similar concerns, Reuters reported. "It is the first time Islamic State captures a town," police Major Saiid Ali said regarding ISIS' previous failed attempts at taking over two small Somali villages.
The Ethiopian military recently withdrew from Somalia over concerns about al-Shabab, a militant group affiliated with Al Qaeda that has been terrorizing the East African country and neighboring Kenya in recent years. Some al-Shabab fighters defected last year and instead pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group, according to ABC News.
The terror groups reportedly resent one another despite having similar goals of establishing and upholding Sharia — or Islamic — law in Somalia, a former al-Shabab fighter told the New York Times.
"The Shabab decided to kill anyone suspected of supporting ISIS,” Hassan Adan said while referencing numerous "assassinations" of ISIS personnel. "The fighting between them is a struggle over power, not principle."
The news comes as al-Shabab was suspected in a foiled knife attack at the U.S. embassy in Nairobi, Kenya on Thursday. The lone militant in that attack was killed.
Al-Shabab has launched numerous attacks in both Somalia and neighboring Kenya, leading the administration of President Barack Obama to try to drive it out of the region. The terror group attacked Garissa University in Nairobi, about 90 miles away from the Somali border, killing 147 people in April 2015.
A would-be ISIS attack involving anthrax in Nairobi was foiled this past May.