Somalia: UIC take control Hiiran region

Published on Sunday 29th June 2008

Somalia: The Union of Islamic Courts has once again captured the central Somalia region of Hiiran, forcing Ethiopian soldiers out of their bases.

Ethiopian soldiers have fled Somalia's Hiiran region after UIC attack.

The fighters arrived in the town early in the morning taking positions and keeping guard at the streets.

Locals ransacked the offices of the regional and municipal administration and the whereabouts of the regional Governor and mayor of the city of Beledweyn are not yet known

At first, Ethiopian soldiers resisted the UIC attacks on four of their bases by setting fire to hijacked vehicles and civilian homes, but were finally forced to retreat behind their own boarders agency report said.

On their flight back to Ethiopian soil, the soldiers intercepted a food convoy on its way to Hiiran, a region home to thousands suffering from food shortage and prevalent violence.

Commanders of the insurgent fighters spoke with local residents saying they will fight with Ethiopian troops if they returned to the city which has fallen to the insurgents early this year but the insurgents withdrew hours after they took over.

Sources in the city said that Ethiopian troops who since they returned to Beledweyn after they left early this year had been stationed in the town with the newly installed administration trying to consolidate their authority in the region.

The new Governor had said early this year that insurgents were inside the region and had been trying to reign in. Ethiopian troops were deployed in the town and the former governor's forces disbanded.

Elsewhere in South Mogadishu, clashes between Insurgents and government forces have left 10 soldiers dead. The artillery and mortar attacks are most intense in the Hodon district and are now heading toward Asluubta and Gashandhiga.

Another faction of the alliance based in Asmara, the Eritrean capital, and the Al-shabaab Islamist group have boycotted the talks held in Djibouti last month. They vowed to continue their attacks on Ethiopian and Somali transitional government forces and officials until Ethiopian troops withdraw from Somalia.

Somali has been without a central authority since the ouster of former Somali ruler Mohamed Siyad Barre in 1991.