Somalia's Islamic militia seizes strategic seaport

Sunday, September 24th 2006, 1:49 pm
By: News On 6

KISMAYO, Somalia (AP) _ Hundreds of Islamic militiamen in heavily armed trucks took over the southern town of Kismayo, one of the last seaports that had been outside their control in Somalia, witnesses said Sunday.

``The Islamic courts have entered Kismayo,'' said resident Abdi Gashan, adding that the warlords who had previously ruled the town had fled. ``We welcome the Islamic courts.''

Somalia's defense minister, Col. Barre ``Hirale'' Aden Shire, is a leading member of the Juba Valley Alliance that had controlled Kismayo and was among those who fled, witnesses said.

Hirale's deputy, Yusuf Mire Mohamud, said earlier Sunday that the alliance had collapsed.

The peaceful takeover was yet another blow to the country's virtually powerless official government, which only controls the town of Baidoa, about 150 miles west of Mogadishu.