Somali Islamists say they take over new positions in Mogadishu

07:59, June 30, 2010      

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The radical Islamist group of Al Shabaab on Tuesday said it took over control of several key areas in the north of the Somali capital Mogadishu after concerted attack on positions of Somali government forces overnight.

The fierce battles broke out late Monday in the Somali government-controlled northern part of the Somali capital, Mogadishu.

Islamist officials took local journalists to the northern parts of the capital to show newly captured government bases but a mortar shell landed at one of the bases where almost four of the reporters, photographers and cameramen present were slightly injured.

The takeover showed that territory controlled by government and African Union (AU) peacekeepers is "shrinking by the day and will be destroyed soon," Ali Mohamoud Raageh, spokesman for the Al Shabaab movement told reporters at a news conference held in one of the newly seized government bases.

The Somali government has not so far officially commented on the claims by the Al Shabaab commanders but the state-run Radio Mogadishu condemned the Al Shabaab movement for "endangering the lives of Somali journalists by taking them to a battle area."

The Islamist Al Shabaab movement which controls much of the Somali capital as well as the south and centre of the war-torn east African country, wages almost daily attacks on Somali government and the AU peacekeepers based in the capital, Mogadishu.

The international recognized government of Somalia controls only few blocks in the chaotic coastal city of Mogadishu with the support of the almost 5,000 AU peacekeeping forces.

Somalia has not had a strong, effective central government since the overthrow of the late Somali leader Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991 and has been through lawlessness and civil conflict since.

Source: Xinhua


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