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New Tensions Flare in Somalia

  • VOA News

New tensions have flared in Somalia where Islamist militiamen today (Monday) fired on a crowd protesting the takeover of a key southern port.

Witnesses in Kismayo say the militiamen killed a 13-year-old boy and wounded two other people.

The protest broke out less than a day after Islamist militiamen took control of Kismayo without a fight. Islamist forces now control all the major ports in southern Somalia.

Interim government Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi says his country is in the grip of a radical Islamic movement. In Kenya Monday he urged the United Nations to end a 14-year arms embargo against Somalia so that a regional peacekeeping force can be deployed in the country.

Meanwhile, witnesses say hundreds of Ethiopian troops have moved into the Somali town of Baidoa to support the government. Ethiopia's foreign ministry has denied the reports.

Ethiopia has vowed in the past to protect the government, which has virtually no power outside Baidoa.

The Islamists now control most of southern Somalia, including the capital, Mogadishu. The United States accuses the Islamists of supporting al-Qaida terrorists, and says they are planning to turn Somalia into a Taleban-style Islamic state.

The African Union recently approved a plan to send thousands of peacekeepers to the war-torn Horn of Africa country. Islamist leaders have vowed to fight the peacekeeping force if it arrives.

Somalia has not had an effective central government since 1991.

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