Page last updated at 16:02 GMT, Friday, 8 August 2008 17:02 UK

Masked militia raid Somali town

Al Shabab gunmen
Al-Shabab began as the militia wing of the Islamists who took power in 2006

More than 100 masked Islamic militiamen have taken control of a strategic town in the south-west of Somalia.

The BBC's Mohamed Olad Hassan in the capital says the fighters occupied Hudur town without any resistance.

They told inhabitants they were al-Shabab militants, who are opposed to Ethiopian troops in the country.

Meanwhile, insurgents have attacked a camp in the capital, Mogadishu, housing government troops and those of their allies, the Ethiopians.

There are no indications of casualties.

On Thursday, there was an attack on the presidential palace in the central town of Baidoa, where parliament sits, as well as at the airport.


Al-Shabab, a radical wing of the Islamists who controlled much of Somalia in 2006 before being ousted by Ethiopian forcesa and Somali government troops.


The group has refused to recognise a ceasefire signed in June between the government and one Islamist leader.

Our correspondent says al-Shabab has recently carried out brazen raids in towns and villages in south and central Somalia.

"There was not a single gunshot," Dahir Ahmed, a businessman in Hudur told the BBC.

Reports say the militia have set up a base at the town's central police station and taken over the local administration offices.

Government forces reportedly fled Hudur, which lies along the main road to Ethiopia, to Baidoa.

The fighting comes as MPs gather in Baidoa to discuss the political differences between President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed and Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein in recent weeks.

Last weekend, more than half the Somali cabinet resigned, angered that Mr Hussein had sacked Mogadishu's mayor, Mohammed Dhere, a close ally of the president.

Somalia has experienced almost constant civil conflict since the collapse of Mohamed Siad Barre's regime in January 1991.


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