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Africa

At least 14 killed as rival Islamist militants battle for control of town

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2009-11-23

At least 14 people were killed on Sunday as al Qaeda-inspired Shebab fighters attacked rival Hezb al-Islam militants and took control of a southern town some 100 kms north of Kismayo, a key port city.

AFP - At least 14 people were killed Sunday in fighting between rival Somali Islamist militia battling for control of the southern town of Afmadow, witnesses said.
   
The Al-Qaeda-inspired Shebab fighters attacked the Hezb al-Islam militants and took control of the town located some 100 kilometres (60 miles) north of Kismayo, a key port city in southern Somalia.
   
"The Shebab invaded and the Hezb al-Islam tried to defend themselves but they were overrun after the city was attacked from three different directions," said Iman Abdi, an Afmadow resident.
   
Another resident, Ahmed Ali, said the Shebab came in large numbers and seemed well prepared for the assault.
   
"There could be renewed fighting because the Hezb al-Islam fighters are regrouping to recapture the town," Ali told AFP by phone.
   
Many of the dead were fighters, other residents said, indicating civilians had been among the casualties.
   
The fighting follows last week's attempts by the more political Hezb al-Islam militia to re-take Kismayo over which they have fought with the Shebab.
   
The two groups in May launched an onslaught against President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed's government in the capital Mogadishu, reducing his control of the war-riven city to a few streets.
   
Turf wars in mainly Shebab-controlled southern Somalia have driven a wedge between the former allies who in May had combined to launch an offensive against forces loyal to President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed in the capital Mogadishu.

Date created : 2009-11-22

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