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Tuesday, 30 January, 2001, 17:13 GMT
Somali town falls to rebels
Map of Somalia
A faction opposed to the interim government in Somalia has seized the southern town of Garbaharey.

Local people say the rebel group was supported by Ethiopian troops.

A government delegation, which was visiting the town, was forced to flee but is reported to be safe.

The government in Mogadishu says that one person was killed in the attack.

Fifth column

Junior minister Ali Hassan blamed Ethiopia, saying that its troops and military hardware took part in the attack, led by "non-patriot Somali personalities".

Somali President Abdulkassim Salat Hassan
President Abdulkassim Salat Hassan is struggling to impose his authority
These, he said, were members of a splinter group of the Somali National Front led by Colonel Abdurazak Issak Bihi.

The Somali Government was elected at a reconciliation conference in Djibouti last August and is the country's first central administration since 1991.

No control

The loss of Garbaharey, in Gedo province, is a blow to the administration, which is struggling to extend its influence beyond the capital.

The rest of Somalia is divided into areas either seeing themselves as independent countries or fiefdoms.

The accusations against Ethiopia are the latest in a long running diplomatic dispute between the two countries.

An Ethiopian diplomat in Nairobi said the allegations that his country was involved were "unfounded lies aimed at discrediting Ethiopia".

He said Somalia's problems were the result of the failure of the transitional government.

Factions in the south-west Somalia are currently trying to come together to form an alternative administration to the central government.

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See also:

25 Jan 01 | Africa
'No Ethiopian troops' in Somalia
12 Jan 01 | Africa
UN backs Somalia peace mission
10 Jan 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Somalia
29 Nov 00 | Africa
Governing Somalia from a hotel
08 Jan 01 | Africa
Somalia accuses Ethiopia
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