Islamic Courts take over Somalia's southern seaport 2006-09-25 20:22:55

    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 

Editor: Wang Yan
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