19 January 2009

Somalia: Fighting Erupts in Mogadishu, 2 Killed

Fighting erupted Monday in Somalia's capital Mogadishu between government security forces and Islamist insurgents, Radio Garowe reports.

Islamist guerrilla group Jabhatul Islamiya (Islamic Front) attacked a police checkpoint in Dharkinley district, sparking a battle that killed at least two people, witnesses said.

The government security forces initially overpowered the Islamist insurgents, forcing them to vacate Dharkinley's main police station, which was seized by the Islamist militia last week.

But the Islamists soon received reinforcements and had reportedly regained the upper hand in the fighting, local reports said.

Moallim Abdulle, Dharkinley's district commissioner, told local media that the "police are in control of the police station."

Jabhatul Islamiya leader Sheikh Mohamed Ibrahim Hayle declined comment to reporters, but Mogadishu radio noted Hayle had previously accused the African Union peacekeeping force of 're-arming warlords.'

Ethiopian troops have withdrawn from the Somali capital, leaving Mogadishu in the grips of a coalition of rival forces. Islamist hardliners, like Al Shabaab and Jabhatul Islamiya, have vowed to attack the AU force until all foreign troops leave Somali soil.

Meanwhile, Al Shabaab spokesman Muktar Robow "Abu Mansur" personally took part in efforts to de-mine key roads in Mogadishu following the withdrawal of Ethiopian forces.

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