Page last updated at 15:33 GMT, Thursday, 3 April 2008 16:33 UK

Somali insurgent attacks spread

Somali women waiting at a MSF clinic
MSF has worked continuously in Somalia for more than 17 years

Fifteen people are reported to have died in northern Somalia as government soldiers fought Islamist insurgents.

The fighting began when insurgents attacked checkpoints at Adado some 600km north of the capital, Mogadishu.

Meanwhile, three people have died in south-west Somalia in an Islamist raid on a hotel where a local governor and other officials were staying.

The Bay region governor said he was safe and the attackers had retreated after heavy fighting.

Islamists also raided the town of Jalalaqsi, north of Mogadishu, and held it briefly before leaving with a police vehicle.

Meanwhile, the aid organisation Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) has shut down a project in southern Somalia citing increased insecurity.

MSF's Arjan Hehenkamp said staff in Kismayo cannot continue working where they are deliberately targeted.

The move comes only days after gunmen kidnapped two UN foreign workers.

Reports say the Islamist insurgents have been regrouping and have briefly taken over six towns in the last few weeks.


The fate of a Briton and Kenyan taken hostage on Tuesday remains unknown.

They were employed by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation to conduct surveys of southern Somalia.

UN officials say local elders are negotiating their release.

Ethiopian troops backing the government ousted the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) from the capital, Mogadishu, in December 2006.

Since then the city has been the scene of clashes with government and Ethiopian troops taking on insurgents.

Now fighting has been moving outside the capital and the Islamists are gaining ground in the central region.

This is despite Prime Minister Hussein Nur Ade inviting the Islamists for talks.

UN special envoy for Somalia Ahmedou Ould Abdallah last week held talks with members of the Somali Opposition Alliance who include UIC leader Sheikh Sharrif Sheikh Hassan, and has expressed optimism that a meeting between both sides is in the offing.

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