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Tuesday, 7 August, 2001, 12:36 GMT 13:36 UK
Somali forces 'recapture' key port
Somalia showing port city of Kismayo
Forces loyal to Somalia's transitional government say they have retaken the southern port of Kismayo a day after it was captured by an opposition faction.

The opposition Somali Reconciliation and Restoration Council, led by General Mohammed Hersi Morgan, had been fighting against the Juba Valley Alliance for control of the town for two weeks.

Local journalists told the BBC early this morning the town was in a very chaotic state. They said people were running around especially those militias who escaped the grip of the pro-government troops.

But an SRRC spokesman told the French news agency: "We still control Kismayo. Seven from our side and 13 militia that were ruling Kismayo illegitimately died in the battle".

Three clans

The transitional government set up last year with international support has been trying to establish control over the country but has been opposed by an alliance of several factions.

Their allies in the JVA are made up of three clans. They first took control of Kismayo town from General Morgan in June 1999.

General Hersi Morgan, with the ball
A bearded General Morgan in 1995
It is understood General Morgan has been preparing for his offensive for more than a year. His progress is being assisted by neighbouring Ethiopia where he formed the SRRC

Kismayo, the third largest town in Somalia, is significant because of its agriculture, livestock and marine resources.

Whoever controls it will have a major power base and be a great influence in how the country as a whole is governed.

Somalia has been ruled by various factions and warlords since civil war broke out 11 years ago against the government of the late president Mohammed Siad Barre.

Hassan Barise
"The situation is very chaotic"
Interview with Yusuf Garaad, Somali Service Editor
"It's about money, it's about revenge, it's about pride"
See also:

06 Aug 01 | Africa
Somali port sees fierce clashes
02 Aug 01 | Africa
Somali militia seize key town
30 Jul 01 | Africa
Kenya bans trading with Somalia
27 Jul 01 | Africa
More fighting in Somalia
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