ICU seize key Somali township

The Australian
A POWERFUL Islamic movement seized control of a key Somali township today, pushing the Horn of Africa nation currently reeling from devastating floods, closer to an all-out war, officials said.
As the international community scrambled to avoid fresh clashes, Islamic forces said they had taken control of Dinsoor, about 270km west of the capital Mogadishu, after pro-government militia pulled out.
“We are telling you that Dinsoor is under the control of the Islamic courts, so we will never accept anybody to violate the area,” said Sheik Abdurahim Ali Muddey, the spokesman for the Supreme Islamic Council of Somalia (SICS).
“We will take military steps if any force violates the area,” he said, referring to transitional government based in Baidoa, about 110km to the north.
Local Islamic officials said plans were underway to impose Islamic law in the township.
“Mogadishu has sent delegates here. They are telling people that Islamic courts are preparing to take control of the whole region and implement Islamic Sharia law,” said Osmail Adan Kerrow, a local Islamic commander.
Somali government officials protested the advance, saying the Islamists were seeking to provoke new unrest.
“This is provocation, we are still in the stage of calling them to stop” parliamentarian Madobe Nunow said.
The seizure, which violates a previous truce and mutual recognition pact between the SICS and the government, comes days after Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi secured parliamentary approval for his plans to fight the Islamists.
Addis Ababa denies deploying thousands of troops across the border but acknowledges sending military advisers and trainers to assist the internationally backed but largely powerless Somali government.
Mainly Christian Ethiopia has watched with growing concern the rise on its south-eastern border of the Islamists, who seized Mogadishu in June and now control most of southern and central Somalia.
With a large ethnic Somali population, Ethiopia fears radicalisation of its sizable Muslim minority by the Islamists, who have imposed strict Sharia law in areas they control and some of whom are accused of links to al-Qaeda.
Somali watchers have warned that an all-out war in Somalia would suck in Addis Ababa's chief rival, Eritrea, also accused of supporting the Islamists, producing a regional conflict.
The new development comes as the UN security council mulled a United States proposal to lift the 1992 arms embargo to enable African nations send in peacekeepers to protect the Government.

posted by Ethiounited Moderator at4:21 AM


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