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Islamists Continue Advance Through Somalia

ICC Note

Islamic extremists have controlled many cities in southern Somalia . They are imposing strict Islamic laws in places they have controlled. The Islamists are bent on destroying Christian minorities in Somalia . In this year alone, they have killed over half a dozen Christian converts from Islam.

By Jeffrey Gettleman

11/13/2008 Somalia (The New York Times)-Islamist militias in Somalia on Thursday continued their steady and surprisingly uncontested march toward the capital, Mogadishu , capturing a small town on the outskirts of the city.

“Many people are now on the verge of fleeing,” said Yusuf Abdi Nur, a shopkeeper in Elasha Biyaha.

The tense but bloodless capture of Elasha Biyaha was a carbon copy of what happened in Merka, a strategic port town, on Wednesday, when hundreds of heavily armed Islamist militants took over the town after government-allied troops beat a hasty retreat.

Many towns in southern Somalia , including Merca, Chisimayu, Qoryooley and Buulo Mareer, are now firmly in the hands of the Shabab, the most militant wing of the Islamists and a group the Bush administration has designated a terrorist organization. The Shabab commanders are fighting to turn Somalia into an Islamic state and they often impose strict Islamic law in their zones of control. On Thursday, residents said the newly arrived clerics in Merca announced that all shops from now on would be closed during prayer time.

But a few months later, Ethiopian forces routed the Islamist troops and brought Somalia ’s transitional government to Mogadishu , which set off some of the most intense warfare Somalia has ever seen. Thousands of civilians have been killed since early 2007, with different Islamist groups waging relentless attacks on government and Ethiopian forces and sometimes battling it out themselves.

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