Somalis claim for ground on al-Shabaab

Oct. 25, 2010 at 11:52 AM
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MOGADISHU, Somalia, Oct. 25 (UPI) -- Soldiers loyal to the transitional government in Somalia drove militants with al-Shabaab out of a town near Kenya, a government spokesman said.

The transitional government in Somalia controls only a small fraction of the capital city. Somalia hasn't had a functioning government since the 1990s and pro-government forces have struggled as al-Shabaab militants waged a brutal campaign for control of Mogadishu, the Somali capital.

Sharif Abdiwahid, a spokesman for pro-government forces, said troops were able to drive al-Shabaab out of Balad Hawa, a town near the Kenya border.

"Al-Shabaab attacked our defensive positions," he was quoted by al-Jazeera as saying. "But we later defeated them and kicked them out of the town and surrounding areas."

Kenya responded to the violence by sending its own forces to man border areas. Thousands of Somalis were reported to have fled the area and al-Jazeera said many of those killed in the border conflicts with al-Shabaab were civilians.

The United Nations said last week it was considering sending permanent staff to Mogadishu as the transitional governments claims additional victories over al-Shabaab.

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