The Islamic Courts fighters may be positioning themselves to attack the seat of the Somali government, as leverage for, or pending an expected outcome of peace talks scheduled for next week. Somali Jihad Update. “Somalia’s Islamists take key town,” from the BBC:
Fighters loyal to Somalia’s Islamic courts have taken control of a key trading town from the transitional government without bloodshed.
They drove into Sakow on Wednesday evening moving closer to the seat of the interim administration in Baidoa.
Islamists are reported to be massing to the east of Baidoa, where government troops have been seen building defences with the aid of Ethiopian soldiers.
The opposing sides are due to meet in Sudan next week for peace talks.
There’s a country that doesn’t exactly leap to mind when “peace talks” are mentioned.
“It was simple because we did not encounter any fighting when we entered the town,” Sheikh Hassan Derow, an Islamist commander told AFP news agency.
Residents of the town which is 170km south-west of Baidoa, said pro-government forces fled to the north.
The BBC’s East Africa correspondent Adam Mynott says the pressure is building towards a confrontation between the two sides.
But the UIC said it dids not intend to attack the transitional government but would defend itself against Ethiopian forces.
“The Courts’ forces are still in their positions to defend the town (Baidoa) against the Ethiopian troops which began to move towards the Courts’ forces,” leading Islamic Courts offical [sic] Shaykh Sharif Shaykh Ahmad told the BBC.
Developing a pretext: “Defending” Baidoa.