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Rights leader: Islamist fighters seize Somali town

Issue 330
Front Page
Index
Headlines

Riyale Forced To Talk With The Opposition But Unwilling To Accept He Is No Longer President

National Union Of Somaliland Journalists Proclaimed

Somaliland Foreign Minister receives French diplomats

From Africa to West Papua, unrecognized nations push for self-determination

Islamist leader says Somalia talks waste of time

Security Council Express Strong Support For Secretary-General's Integrated Strategy For Peace In Somalia

Declaration Opening the World Order to De facto States

Somaliland overrides 17 years of underestimation

Policy Failures In Somalia Conflict

Regional Affairs

Meeting Between The Government & Opposition Leaders In Hargeysa

Clan militias in Kismayo feel pressure again

Editorial
Special Report

International News

Bush presses Arab leaders on reform

Moldova And Transdniester Parliament Leaders Meet In Brussels For EU-Led Talks

FEATURES & COMMENTARY

The Point: IS IT A VICTIM OF EMIGRATION?

Different Kind Of World Cup

What Vietnam taught McCain about war

Campaign to establish a radical Islamic state

Somaliland - Setting aside the political differences for Common Goals

Egypt Con Man Gets 1,000 Years

Collaboration requires a strong home base

Food for thought

Opinions

Both in Puntland and Somaliland, Siyad's goons are in charge

The Past Haunts Me

ALL TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN

Time Is Up Mister

Together We Shall Overcome The Crisis

Is There A Problem Between Opposition Parties And Dahir Riyale

Peace In Somaliland Is At The Fork Of Ephemerality And Endurance


By MOHAMED OLAD HASSAN

MOGADISHU, Somalia. 17 May 2008 - Islamic insurgents in Somalia seized a major agricultural center overnight, sending hundreds of people fleeing, a human rights leader said Saturday.

The attack underscored the government's vulnerabilities, as U.N.-sponsored peace talks stalled in neighboring Djibouti.

Ali Bashi, of Fanole rights group, said the Islamic Courts Union ousted militiamen loyal to Somalia's fragile government from Jilib overnight and were patrolling the southern town Saturday. Two militia fighters were killed and three others were wounded in the fighting, he said, citing reports from his office in Jilib.

Jilib resident Mohamed Sandhere said he saw two dead government fighters near a checkpoint and five others, including two civilians, who were badly wounded.

After the insurgents entered the town from several directions, the two sides fought with guns and rocket-propelled grenades. The Islamic militants seized some weapons and equipment from the government side, including four armored trucks, said witness Elmi Ali.

Hundreds of refugees were streaming out of the town Saturday.

"These people already had fled from fighting in Mogadishu and today again were forced to flee because they fear more violence," Bashi told The Associated Press in a telephone call from the southern Kismayo town. Jilib had a population of about 5,000 before the influx of people displaced from the capital.

The town is in a volatile area where two foreign U.N. contractors were abducted months ago. The Briton and Kenyan still are missing.

In a separate attack on Saturday night, the head of a Somali humanitarian organization was killed by masked gunmen in Kismayo, a relative told The Associated Press.

Ahmed Bariyow, the head of Somalia's Horn Relief organization, was killed as he was walking home in Kismayo. His cousin, Ahmed Yonis, said he was walking behind Bariyow when three masked men armed with pistols stopped him and fired repeated shots into his chest and head.

Aid workers are being targeted as the Horn of Africa nation confronts drought and a refugee crisis that will leave nearly half the population of 8 million in need of emergency food aid by the year's end, according to the United Nations.

In January in Kismayo, a Kenyan surgeon, a French logistics expert and a Somali driver working for Doctors Without Borders-Holland died in a landmine blast.

Somalia's weak U.N.-backed government has been struggling to quash a re-emerging Islamist insurgency. In December 2006, neighboring Ethiopia sent troops that still are propping up the government. Thousands of civilians have been killed and hundreds of thousands forced from their homes in a burgeoning humanitarian crisis.

Somalia has been without a functioning government since 1991, when clan warlords ousted longtime dictator Mohamed Siad Barre and then turned on each other, creating chaos in the Horn of Africa nation.

Islamist insurgents have intensified attacks since a U.S. airstrike May 1 killed the alleged al-Qaida leader in Somalia.

The U.N. Security Council unanimously approved a resolution Thursday calling for a U.N. political presence in Somalia for the first time in years and said it would consider deploying U.N. peacekeepers to replace African Union troops, if there is improved political reconciliation and security.

But another round of peace talks ended in Djibouti on Friday with no more than an agreement to meet again May 31. U.N. negotiators failed to organize direct talks between the government and the biggest opposition alliance, which supports the insurgency.

The Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia said it would not be involved in direct talks until the government agrees to a timetable for Ethiopian troops to withdraw. Without Ethiopian support, it is feared the government would fall.

Associated Press Writer Mohamed Sheikh Nor contributed to this report.

Source: AP

 


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