Rebels seize Somali town


Medeshi Feb 25, 2009
Rebels seize Somali town
A hardline Islamist Somali militia has seized control of a town near the border with Ethiopia, as fighting continues in the capital Mogadishu.
Al-Shabab insurgents - who are opposed to UN-sponsored reconciliation efforts in Somalia - overpowered pro-government forces in Hudur early on Wednesday.
Four civilians in Mogadishu were killed bringing the death toll to 30 and 120 injured from two days of fighting.
It comes days after the new president returned to the Somali capital.
President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, a moderate Islamist, is trying to set up his new unity government.
The failed Horn of Africa state has not had a functioning national government since 1991.
Al-Shabab fighters said they had captured Hudur, 300km (180 miles) north-west of Mogadishu on Wednesday morning.
Mohamed Dirie, a resident in the town, told AFP news agency: "There was heavy fighting this morning and the Somali government forces fled and the al-Shabab are controlling the town now."
Back in Mogadishu, fighting continued to focus on the south of the city, near the presidential palace, between rebels and African Union and pro-government troops.
Correspondents say it is the fiercest fighting since the new president was elected by MPs in January under a UN-brokered peace deal.
Ethiopian troops, which had been in the country since 2006 to support Somalia's fragile transitional government, pulled out at the end of January.
The AU's 3,400-strong force of Burundian and Ugandan peacekeepers - deployed since 2007 - are now the only foreign troops in the Somali capital.
Some three million people - half the population - need food aid after years of fighting.
Story from BBC NEWS:http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/world/africa/7909880.stm