Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Islamic Militia Fires On Protesters in Somalia

KISMAAYO, Somalia -- Islamic fighters in this Somali port city opened fire Monday toward residents who were burning tires, throwing stones and chanting to protest the takeover of the city hours earlier by the Islamic Courts militia.

A 13-year-old boy was shot dead and two other people injured as violence raged for hours in Somalia's third-largest city, witnesses said. "We have been taken over by extremists. The Islamic Courts have taken us by force," protester Dahabo Dirie said.

Riding trucks mounted with machine guns, Islamic Courts fighters guarded streets and forbade gatherings after the protests died down. The militia, which in June seized control of the capital, Mogadishu, poured into Kismaayo overnight to extend its grip on south-central Somalia and flank the powerless interim government on three sides.

Kismaayo residents, near the border with Kenya, said some of the militiamen stirred up an already tense mood by burning the Somali flag and raising an Islamic one, after taking the city hours earlier without firing a shot.

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ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia -- The African Union will add 4,000 troops to its Darfur peacekeeping mission, bolstering the 7,000 poorly funded and ill-equipped A.U. forces monitoring a battered cease-fire, an A.U. official said Monday.

The move came as international pressure on Sudan rises to allow a force of 20,000 U.N. troops into Darfur to replace the current A.U. contingent.

An estimated 200,000 people have died in Darfur since violence flared in 2003, and 2.5 million have been displaced in the fighting among government forces, rebels and militias.

Also, Qatar's U.N. ambassador, Nassir Abdulaziz al-Nasser, said about $50 million had been raised for the force by Arab nations, out of a target of $100 million.


ยท KATHMANDU, Nepal -- All 24 people aboard a helicopter chartered by the World Wildlife Fund conservation group were killed after the aircraft crashed in bad weather two days ago, officials said. The wreckage was found by a Nepali army team after rain hampered initial rescue efforts. Nepal ordered an investigation into the crash.

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