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Last Updated: Friday, 7 March 2008, 10:23 GMT
Islamist raid kills Somali troops
Somali Islamist gunman
The Islamists seem to be regrouping outside the capital
Heavily armed Islamist gunmen have raided Baladwayne town north of the capital, Mogadishu, killing five government soldiers.

A BBC correspondent says the fighters burned vehicles and freed prisoners before fleeing.

Baladwayne town is considered strategic as it lies on the main road to Ethiopia, which is also the troops' main supply route.

The Islamists have this week attacked six towns around the country.

The BBC's Mohammed Olad Hassan in Mogadishu says the attacks are seen as a new tactic being employed by the Islamists to make a comeback after being ousted from the capital in December 2006.

US strike

The town which were attacked this week include Dinsoor, Burhakaba, Hudur, Bakool, Dhoble and Baidoa, which is where the parliament is based.

map

Aid workers say the Islamists have also held talks with elders, businessmen and religious leaders in Wajjid town as they try to organise their return.

Earlier this week, the US bombed the Islamist-held town of Dhoble in southern Somalia, saying that an al-Qaeda operative was sheltering there.

The Islamists were ousted from the capital, Mogadishu in December 2006 by government forces, backed up by Ethiopia, with some intelligence from the US.

The US accused the Somali Islamists of harbouring those responsible for the 1998 attacks on its embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

The Islamists denied this, as well as reports they had links to al-Qaeda.

Somalia has not had an effective national government since 1991.

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