Somali Islamists kill 7 govt troops in southern town

Heavily armed Somali fighters killed seven government troops and wounded eight others after briefly occupying a southern town on Sunday in the latest show of strength by the nation's Islamists.

Somali Islamists kill 7 govt troops in southern town
Since being ejected from Mogadishu at the end of 2006 after a brief, six-month rule of south Somalia, the Islamists have waged a insurgency against the West-backed government and its Ethiopian military backers.

"At least seven soldiers have been killed and eight others have been wounded in the gunfight between the troops and the insurgents," said Hussein Ali Isaq, a senior police officer in Dinsoor.

"I was one of the police officers who escaped when the Islamic Court's fighters seized the town. They left a few hours after they burned three battlewagons and ... confiscated all the weapons in the town," he told Reuters by telephone.

A senior commander of the Islamists' Shabab youth wing, Muktar Ali Robow, led rebels equipped with rocket propelled grenades and machineguns as they outgunned government troops in Dinsoor early on Sunday.

"Their leader Muktar Robow spoke to the public and said his fighters would not harm anyone. He urged them to maintain their businesses as usual," resident Hassan Maalin told Reuters.

Robow was the deputy defence commander for Somalia's Islamic Courts Council (SICC) when it ruled Mogadishu.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 24 Şubat 2008, 18:30