Uprising by Somali clans puts al-Qaeda-linked militants on the defensive

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BAXDO, Somalia — A determined but often chaotic uprising by clan militias supported by Somali government troops has forced the al-Shabab militant group, one of al-Qaeda’s wealthiest and strongest global affiliates, onto the back foot, say Somali and U.S. officials.

Political infighting in the Somali government had stymied any military offensive against al-Shabab for the past three years, allowing the group to consolidate its control over parts of Somalia. But after elections were held in May and the new government put its backing behind some of the clans in central Somalia, their militias began to claw back territory, taking over insurgent checkpoints previously used to extort money and bases used to launch attacks.