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ICC NOTE: Kismayo is the third largest city in Somalia . Other than the semi-autonomous region of Puntland and Somaliland, the Islamists now control all of Somalia ’s important ports.

Somali Islamists take port, boy killed in protests

Sep 25, 2006

For the full article go to Reuters

By Sahra Ahmed

KISMAYO, Somalia – Islamist fighters opened fire in the Somali port city of Kismayo on Monday toward residents burning tires, throwing stones and chanting to protest against the Islamist takeover of their city hours before.

A 13-year-old boy was shot dead while protesting, while two other people were injured, witnesses said, amid sketchy reports from Somalia ‘s third largest city.

“We have been taken over by extremists, the Islamic courts have taken us by force, and now they are firing at us,” protester Dahabo Dirie said amid screams and gunshots.

Riding on trucks mounted with machine guns, the Mogadishu-based Islamists poured into Kismayo overnight to extend their grip on south-central Somalia and effectively flank the powerless central government on three sides.

The government, based in the provincial town of Baidoa and with little military strength of its own, denounced the Kismayo takeover as a breach of an agreement both sides reached during peace talks in Sudan to halt further military expansion.

Residents of Kismayo, near Kenya ‘s border, said some arriving Islamist fighters stirred up an already tense mood by burning the Somali flag and raising an Islamic one.

That set off massive protests, after the town had previously been peaceful since the Islamists entered, they said.

“I witnessed the Somali flag being ripped apart and burned. This is unacceptable,” said resident Mahad Abdullahi.

A Reuters witness saw thousands of men and women pouring on to the streets, shouting “We don’t want the Islamic Courts” and tossing stones at trucks used by Islamist fighters. Roads were blocked with stones and burning tires, she added.