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ICC NOTE: In this urgent time for Somalia the Church must pray for Christians who are persecuted in this nation. While the Islamic militia promises peace and order, Somalia may be trading in one oppressive force for another.

Islamic militia says Mogadishu captured

By MOHAMED OLAD HASSAN

Associated Press Writer

WORLD Magazine MOGADISHU , Somalia (AP) — An Islamic militia said Monday it has seized Somalia ‘s capital after weeks of some of the bloodiest fighting in 15 years of anarchy in this Horn of Africa nation.

Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed, chairman of the Islamic Courts Union, said his forces have fought off a secular alliance of warlords who have been trying to retain their grip on Somalia . The militia appeared in control of the capital, which was calm Monday.

“We want to restore peace and stability to Mogadishu . We are ready to meet and talk to anybody and any group for the interest of the people,” Ahmed said on a radio broadcast.

Attempts to reach the alliance were not immediately successful; most leaders appeared to have fled the city by Monday afternoon.

The Islamic militias have made steady gains in recent days, seizing the alliance base of Balad on Sunday and enlisting former alliance commanders. Their growing power is raising fears that the nation could fall under the sway of al-Qaida, like Afghanistan did under the Taliban.

The recent surge in violence started last month, killing more than 300 people and wounding 1,700, many of them civilians caught in the crossfire. The fundamentalists accuse their rivals of working for the CIA, while the alliance says the militias have links to al-Qaida.

A U.N.-backed interim government has failed to assert control from its base in Baidoa, 155 miles from Mogadishu .