Unidentified planes soared overhead Somali port

The loss of Kismayu to the al-Shabaab insurgents was another blow for Somalia's interim government.

Unidentified planes soared overhead Somali port

Bodies littered this strategic port in southern Somalia and unidentified planes soared overhead on Saturday, a day after it was seized by Islamist fighters in fighting that killed at least 70 people.

The loss of Kismayu to the al-Shabaab insurgents was another blow for Somalia's interim government, which signed a peace deal with some opposition figures last week that has only seemed to stoke violence in the Horn of Africa nation.

"We are now collecting the corpses lying in the streets," resident Mohamed Farah, 55, told Reuters.

"The town is calm today and we're busy burying the victims of the fighting. The Islamists are at the abandoned sea and air ports, and people here are hoping to reopen their businesses."

A security source said gunmen kidnapped two Western journalists, an Australian man and a Canadian woman, at Elasha near Mogadishu on Saturday.

"They left us this morning to visit internally displaced camps ... now they are nowhere to be found," said Mohamed Ajos, head of security at the capital's Shamo Hotel, where the pair were staying. "They are believed to have been kidnapped."


A spokesman for Somali opposition groups based in Eritrea congratulated the insurgents on seizing Kismayu.

"We'll continue our war against militiamen and all troops until we rule the whole country by Islamic law," said Ismail Adow of the Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia.

"God willing, we shall establish an administration for Kismayu in the coming days," he told Reuters by telephone from Asmara.

The artillery and gun battles that broke out on Wednesday around the port were the heaviest in the area for months. Medical workers said at least 140 people had been wounded.

Fearful residents said large, unidentified aircraft could be seen flying over the area since then.

"We don't know what will happen, but we are scared," said 35-year-old Hussein Ahmed.


It was not clear who sent the planes. The United States, which has launched air strikes inside Somalia in recent months, officially listed al-Shabaab earlier this year as a terrorist organisation with close ties to Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda.

Washington sees Somalia as a training ground for Islamists.

The violence in Somalia has killed more than 8,000 civilians and uprooted 1 million since the beginning of 2007, when government forces backed by Ethiopian tanks and warplanes drove a sharia courts group out of the capital Mogadishu.

On Monday, U.N.-led talks in Djibouti produced a tentative peace agreement between the government and some opposition figures. But the deal had already been rejected by al-Shabaab commanders and other opposition groups.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 24 Ağustos 2008, 12:57