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ICC NOTE: The number of refugees in Kenya has reached over 200,000 as people are trying to flee from Islamic rule in Somalia .

Women Protest Arrival of Islamic Militia in Somali Town

For the full article go to: Fox News

Tuesday , September 26, 2006

KISMAYO, Somalia — Women took to the streets of this strategic port town Tuesday to protest the arrival of a radical Islamic militia, one day after the militants opened fire on a larger protest here and killed a teenager.

Militiamen quickly broke up Tuesday’s protest and arrested 20 women, according to relatives of the demonstrators who didn’t want to be named for fear of reprisals. The militants also parked their “technicals” — trucks mounted with guns — along roads to prevent gatherings.

The group’s strict and often severe interpretation of Islam raises memories of Afghanistan ‘s Taliban, and contrasts with the moderate Islam that has dominated Somali culture for centuries. Somalis fleeing the conflict have pushed the number of refugees in neighboring Kenya to the highest level in a decade, the United Nations World Food Program said Tuesday.

Still, some Somalis have embraced the radicals because they have brought a semblance of order in a troubled corner of Africa .

Islamic militiamen wearing white headbands opened fire on the crowd, killing a 13-year-old boy, said resident Abdiqadir Filibin. Two other children were injured, witnesses said on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals. Sporadic gunfire could also be heard.

“There are Islamic technicals everywhere in the city,” said Abdirahman Abdullahi Farah. “We tell them to go back to Mogadishu or face ejection by force.”

North of Kismayo, troops from neighboring Ethiopian arrived Monday to support the weak government. Witnesses saw about 300 Ethiopians in a convoy of 50 armored trucks in Bardaale, 40 miles west of Baidoa, the only town held by the government.

Several thousand demonstrators protested against the Islamic militia Monday in Kismayo. Militiamen with white bands on their heads opened fire on the protesters. Kismayo resident Abdiqadir Filibin said he saw a 13-year-old killed.

Somalia has not had an effective national government since 1991, when warlords overthrew dictator Mohamed Siad Barre and then turned on one another, throwing the country into anarchy.

Hassan Turki, a leader of the Islamic militia, acknowledged Monday for the first time that foreign fighters were helping the militants. He was speaking to a demonstration in support of his group in Kismayo. Turki, who is rarely seen in public, is on the U.S. and U.N. lists of suspected terrorists for having alleged ties to Al Qaeda.

The Islamic group opposes any foreign intervention in the country.

The Islamic group and Gedi’s government have agreed to a cease-fire, but the Islamic fighters have continued to advance across the country.