Somali Jihad Update. From AFP: “Somali Islamists overrun towns in northward push”
MOGADISHU (AFP) – Islamic militias now controlling swathes of southern Somalia pushed north, as their supporters protested against plans to deploy African peacekeepers in the lawless nation and an international forum began talks in New York.
The African Union for its part called for international support for the transitional government, which has been powerless to stop the new round of fighting which has killed more than 360 people in four months.
Areas under the sway of the Joint Islamic Courts militia now include most of the capital, Mogadishu, the town of Jowhar in Middle Shabelle region as well as Gialalassi town and several posts in Hiraan region, all former strongholds of US-backed warlords who were routed on Wednesday.
Islamic commanders said they had seized the towns without much resistance and were targeting Beledweyne, a key access town to Ethiopia, about 300 kilometres (189 miles) north of the capital.
Here’s a map to put lesser-known towns and regions in context.
At the same time the Islamic alliance leadership sought the support of influential clan elders for the imposition of Sharia law in areas the Islamists now control and for the expulsion of the warlords from their last strongholds in the country.