NAIROBI, Sept. 25 (Xinhua) – Rapidly advancing militias of Somali Islamic
Courts have taken over a strategic southern port city of Kismayo, an official of
the militias confirmed on Monday.
Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, head of the Courts' executive council, said that he
had his militia, which seized Mogadishu and other parts of southern Somalia
earlier this year, both inside and around Kismayo.
Officials with the Supreme Council of Islamic Courts (SCIC) in Mogadishu
had denied planning to take Kismayo by force but said they wanted the port to
keep the planned peacekeeping force from landing there. They also said they
would expand further to close the Kenyan-Somali border to prevent regional
countries from deploying foreign peacekeepers in the nation.
Earlier this month, the African Union supported a request by Somalia's
transitional government, which controls only a small part of the country, to
send in a regional peacekeeping force.
Government spokesman Abdirahman Dinari said on Monday that any attack on
Kismayo would breach a ceasefire deal between the administration and the Islamic
Courts during the recent talks in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum. "We are
requesting that the international community pressurize the Islamic Courts to
stop attacking," said Dinari.
The SCIC has steadily increased its hold on Somalia since its fighters took
control of the capital, Mogadishu, in June.
The UN refugee agency UNHCR said last week that hundreds of people have
fled Kismayo for neighboring Kenya over the past week. The agency has already
received over 25,000 Somali refugees since early this year.
The Horn of African nation has not had an effective national government
since 1991. An interim government was formed in 2004 with UN help in hopes of
restoring order after years of lawlessness. Enditem