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Islamic militia says it has captured Mogadishu

The Islamic Courts Union seized the Somalian capital after weeks of fighting in this lawless Horn of Africa nation.

india Updated: Jun 05, 2006 16:47 IST
Associated Press
Associated Press

An Islamic militia said on Monday it has seized Somalia's capital after weeks of some of the bloodiest fighting in 15 years of anarchy in this lawless Horn of Africa nation.

Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed, chairman of the Islamic Courts Union, said his forces have fought off a secular alliance of warlords who have been trying to retain their grip on Somalia. The militia appeared in control of the capital.

The Islamic militias have made steady gains in recent days, seizing villages and enlisting two former alliance commanders.

Their growing power is raising fears that the nation could follow the path of Taliban Afghanistan into the hands of Al-Qaeda.

The most recent surge in violence here started last month, killing more than 300 people and wounding 1,700, many of them civilians caught in crossfire.

The fundamentalists accuse their rivals of working for the CIA, while the alliance says the militias have links to Al-Qaeda.

The United States is widely believed to be supporting the alliance but American officials have refused to confirm or deny that.

The US has carried out no direct action in Somalia since the last intervention resulted in the deaths of 18 servicemen in a 1993 battle.

Somalia, an impoverished country of 8 million, has been divided into rival fiefdoms since 1991, when warlords overthrew longtime dictator Mohamed Siad Barre.

First Published: Jun 05, 2006 16:16 IST