Insurgents briefly seize Somali town, kill seven

March 26th, 2008 - 4:51 pm ICT by admin  

Mogadishu, March 26 (Xinhua) Six Somali government soldiers and a child were killed and an unknown number of people wounded after Islamist fighters Wednesday overran two towns in the north but withdrew after three hours, residents said. “We have taken over Jawhar and Mahaday towns and chased the collaborators, killed many of their soldiers and captured huge cache of weapons from the enemy,” Abdelhakim Isse Abukar, spokesman for the fighters of the Union of Islamic Courts, told Xinhua by phone from an unspecified location in Somalia.

Residents in Jawhar, the provincial capital of Middle Shabelle province, said the fighters came into the town in the early hours of Wednesday and engaged in brief but intense fight with government soldiers, killing six troopers and a child whose mother was a soldier.

“Six soldiers and a child were killed by fighters of the Islamic Courts Union after they entered the town early this morning and took over the mayor’s office and the police station,” Abdelqani Hassan, a local journalist told Xinhua by phone from Jawhar town, 90 km north of Mogadishu.

The fighters freed all prisoners in police cells and took all the weapons in the government buildings.

Residents said widespread looting of government building ensued after fighters withdrew.

It is not known where the mayor and other local government officials are as the town is now not in the hands of either side after the Islamist fighters left after a three-hour stay in Jawhar, a strategic town linking the southern and central Somali provinces.

Sources in Jawhar said the regional governor, the major and other senior officials were absent when the fighters captured the two towns.

Insurgents usually launch surprise attacks on towns outside the capital, seize a number of them but leave after hours in most cases.

They said it was not “their strategy to hold on to places at this stage.”

The armed fighters have rejected calls by the Somali government for talks saying they could not negotiate “under Ethiopian occupation”.

Thousands of Ethiopian troops are currently deployed in Somalia to back the internationally recognised interim administration. They helped Somali government soldiers oust an Islamist movement from power in south and central Somali in December 2006.

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