Islamic forces abandon Somalia's capital

(AP) - Clan militiamen poured into the streets of Somalia's capital Thursday after the Islamic movement that has controlled Mogadishu for months abandoned the city and government forces advanced to within striking distance.

Gunfire echoed through the streets and hundreds of gunmen who had backed the Muslim militants demonstrated they had broken allegiance by switching from uniforms to civilian clothes, reports Trend.

Some began looting buildings deserted by the Islamists. One resident said three men and a woman had been killed in a scramble for ammunition and food.

"We will capture Mogadishu any time within the coming hours," government spokesman Abdirahman Dinari told The Associated Press, saying the country was in a state of emergency. "We are now at the entry points of the city."

President Abdullahi Yusuf was expected to offer the clans a truce later Thursday.

Residents south of the city said Islamist forces were streaming south toward the port city of Kismayo. Yusuf Ibrahim, a former Islamic fighter who quit Thursday, said about 3,000 fighters left for Kismayo.

Islamists acknowledged they had left Mogadishu but said they were not giving up their fight. Abdirahman Janaqow, a senior leader, told The Associated Press he ordered his forces out of the capital to avoid bloodshed.

"We decided to leave Mogadishu because of the safety of the civilians," Janaqow said in a telephone interview. "We want to face our enemy and their stooges in a separate area, away from civilians."

A well-known clan leader, Hussein Haji Bod, asked people to remain calm and said elders would meet Thursday to discuss the "future of the capital." The largest market in the capital was closed for fear it would be looted.

The Council of Islamic Courts seized Mogadishu in June and went on to take much of southern Somalia, often without fighting. They were later joined by foreign militants, including Pakistanis and Arabs, who supported their goal of making Somalia an Islamic state.

The Islamists seemed invincible after capturing the capital, but they have been no match for Ethiopia, which has the strongest military in the Horn of Africa. Ethiopian forces crossed the border Sunday to reinforce the internationally recognized Somali government, which was bottled up in Baidoa, 140 miles northwest of Mogadishu.

Ethiopia's prime minister has said that his country was "forced to enter a war" with the Council of Islamic Courts after the group declared holy war on Ethiopia, a largely Christian country that has feared the emergence of a neighboring Islamic state.

The conflict in Somalia has drawn concern from the United States, which accuses the Islamists of harboring al-Qaida terrorists, and other Western powers.

Meles Zenawi, the Ethiopian prime minister, said Tuesday he had been given unconfirmed reports that as many as 1,000 people had died and 3,000 were wounded since the fighting began on Saturday.

The Red Cross reported 850 people injured at hospitals supported by the relief agency in Mogadishu and Baidoa, but had no figure for fatalities.

Ethiopian and Somali government troops advanced on the capital from the north and the west, capturing the country's most important airfield and driving Islamic fighters out of Jowhar, the last major town on the northern route. As troops entered Jowhar on Wednesday, an independent radio station began blasting Western music, which the militias had banned.

The commander of Ethiopian forces in Somalia, Gen. Salem Hagos, met Thursday with government commanders to discuss their next move. Col. Ahmed Omar, a Somali officer, said Ethiopian troops would stop advancing on the capital, but government forces would approach the capital.

More than 20 fighting vehicles loaded with Islamic militiamen rolled into Kismayo early Thursday, but Somalis there also appeared to be bucking Islamic rule. Clans called on the governor to surrender to government forces, but he refused, said relatives interviewed by The Associated Press, who asked not to be named for security reasons.

Somalia's complex clan system has been the basis of politics and identity here for centuries. But fighting between clans has prevented Somalia from having an effective government since 1991. That's when clan-based warlords overthrew a dictator and turned on one another.

Two years ago, the United Nations helped set up the interim government. It has been unable to assert much authority, in part because it has been weakened by clan rivalries.

The competition for control of Mogadishu since 1991 has involved the Abgal and Habr Gadir clans, who came together earlier this year to support the Islamic council. Most of the shooting and looting in Mogadishu on Thursday was coming from Abgal clan strongholds.

The Islamists tried to supplant the influence of the clans by appealing to Somalis as Muslims. Many Somalis were grateful for the order the movement imposed. But many also chafed at the strict enforcement of Islamic codes.

On Wednesday, streets in the capital were once again crowded with women selling qat the popular leafy stimulant banned by the militias.

Russian Gazprombank expecting Azerbaijani sovereign rating's return to 'stable' outlook
Russian Gazprombank expecting Azerbaijani sovereign rating's return to 'stable' outlook
Georgia reveals volume of domestic debt
Georgia reveals volume of domestic debt
Demand for notes of Central Bank of Azerbaijan exceeds supply
Demand for notes of Central Bank of Azerbaijan exceeds supply
Loading Bars
Latest
French Proparco provides Georgian hospitals with grant to support COVID-19 battle
India’s role in combating COVID-19 through vaccine development and manufacturing
Russian Gazprombank expecting Azerbaijani sovereign rating's return to 'stable' outlook
Support for revival of Nagorno-Karabakh must become way of life – Azerbaijani minister
Tesla Israel headquarters nears completion
Armenian soldiers demanding compensation for participation in Karabakh war
Azerbaijan shows footage from Yukhari Abdurrakhmanli village of Fuzuli (VIDEO)
Azercell is always leading with its exemplary service quality
Uzbekistan may consider temporary suspension of yarn exports
Georgia reveals volume of domestic debt
Walmart expands vaccinations in boost to U.S. COVID-19 program
Israeli company eyes creating lavender plantations in Uzbek Namangan region
Georgia reveals volume of imported oil bitumen
European standard bakery to open with support of Bank of Georgia
Kazakhstan investing in Georgia across wide range of economy spheres
Georgia sees decrease in import of aviation fuel
Azerbaijani President declared Nagorno-Karabakh status issue as left in past - MFA's comment on European Parliament's resolution
Dagestan starts exporting ceramic products to Azerbaijan
Georgian RMG Gold company's total sales increase
Demand for notes of Central Bank of Azerbaijan exceeds supply
Assessment of damage caused by Armenia to Azerbaijani civilian objects continues
Volume of cargo passing through Astara terminal increasing from year to year
Criminal case opened against more terrorists used by Armenia against Azerbaijan
National Bank of Kazakhstan determines strategic initiatives for 2021
Bukhara oil refinery produces floating pontoons to eliminate loss of light hydrocarbons
Azerbaijan establishes Agency for Development of Economic Zones
Azerbaijan developing employment programs for future residents of liberated lands
Georgia decides to increase subsidies for flour
UK can help Azerbaijan to demine liberated lands - ambassador
Azerbaijan, UK discuss issues of development of co-op in area of defense
EU, FAO supporting agriculture and rural development in Georgia
Automated warehouse system introduced at Uzbekneftegaz JSC
Projected volume of trade turnover between Turkmenistan, US for 2021 named
Kazakhstan's monetary base surges in value in Dec. 2020
Uzbekneftegaz manages to reduce imports of materials, technical resources
Elon Musk to offer $100 million prize for 'best' carbon capture tech
Kazakhstan boosts petroleum oil exports to Spain despite COVID-19
Georgia to restore operations of municipal transport, schools and stores
Application of TRACECA single transit permit digitalizes transport and logistics sector
Azerbaijani gymnasts to take part in European Championships in Switzerland
Kazakhstan deregulates tanker call-in services for oil crude, products export
Azerbaijan's energy company building new substation in liberated Shusha (PHOTO/VIDEO)
Regular flights to resume from February 1 in Georgia
PASHA Bank's branch in liberated Shusha to help implement territories' restoration initiatives
Nar offers special discounts for Karabagh war veterans
Austrian Enhanced Resource Company talks about work plans in Azerbaijan for 2021
Azerbaijani banking community eyeing dev't of entrepreneurial ecosystem in liberated territories
German government sees 2021 GDP growth of 3%
Kazatomprom completes COVID-19 testing at its JV with French Orano
Introduction of Euro-5 diesel standard postponed in Georgia
Azerbaijan studying Turkey's experience to create liberal electricity market
Baku Higher Oil School holds discussions on ‘Natural resources of Karabakh’ (PHOTO)
Volume of vegetable oil imported by Turkmenistan from EAEU revealed
Major foreign companies to support logistics and fulfillment center creation in Kazakhstan
Volkswagen operating profit drops by half in 2020
Azerbaijan discloses commercial banks' total share in GDP
Azerbaijan-Turkmenistan co-op development serves economic well-being of region - MP
Georgian government's action plan has direct, clear priorities - PM
Demand for dairy products of EAEU countries increases in Turkmenistan
Cotton fiber production increases in Uzbekistan
All preventive measures to be taken in connection with COVID-19 at Azerbaijani schools
Public Council under Azerbaijani Ministry of Ecology to assess damage in liberated lands
Azerbaijan's PASHA Bank talks government initiatives for restoring liberated territories
Passenger traffic of Georgian airports significantly down
Tutoring activity may be resumed in Azerbaijan soon - minister
Turkmenistan increases import of flour from EAEU
China's CEIC, China Reform set up $1.55 billion new energy fund
Uzbekistan reduces gasoline production
Azerbaijan shows footage from Gargabazar village of Fuzuli district (PHOTO/VIDEO)
Greenhouses construction underway at agro-industrial complex in Uzbek Bukhara region
Uzbekistan, Ukraine talk diversification of mutual trade
Uzbekistan’s mining and metallurgical complex eyes increasing its authorized capital
Turkmenistan's fruit imports from EAEU increased
Azerbaijan to continue TV lessons until end of academic year
Minister talks possible date of kindergartens opening in Azerbaijan
Education minister talks epidemiological situation in Azerbaijan
Russia bans import of tomatoes from more Azerbaijani producers
Armenian opposition rallying in front of parliament building
Hungary PM says too early to talk about lifting COVID-19 restrictions
Education in Azerbaijani schools to begin in stages from February 1
Georgia reports 903 new cases of coronavirus for Jan.22
Kazakhstan's Kazakhmys boosts metals output, reveals plans for 2020
UK keeping its borders open for now - environment minister
Issue of banning tomato imports from Azerbaijan to Kazakhstan under review - Azerbaijani FDA
Restrictions imposed by Kazakhstan on import of tomatoes from Azerbaijan - temporary, says Kazakh Ministry
Results of Second Karabakh War hard to accept for Armenia, says Russian expert
Azerbaijan names amount of compensation paid to closed banks' depositors
Kazakhstan boosts 2020 passenger cars manufacturing despite COVID-19
Uzbekistan’s 2020 volume of electricity production up
Georgia reveals data on exports to Russia
Georgian tangerines exports exceed preliminary forecasts
Employee of Azerbaijan's ANAMA hits mine in liberated Jabrayil
Vaccine Maitri: Indian Covishield vaccine consignment reaches Bangladesh
Former Bhutan Prime Minister thanks India for gifting COVID-19 vaccine
PM Modi congratulates US President Joe Biden, says India-US partnership based on shared values
Dostlug field as unique format of co-op in Caspian - another successful strategy of President Ilham Aliyev
Azerbaijani MP talks rational bases for positive outlook on country's economy for 2021
Scientific experimental station of pistachio growing to be created in Uzbekistan
Turkmengas to buy electrical equipment via tender
Kazakhstan increases imports from Malaysia despite COVID-19
All news