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Somali government claims control of capital, defeat of Islamic rebels

Catholic World News - August 08, 2011

The struggling central government of Somalia, which has struggled for years to regain control of the country’s territory, has claimed a definitive victory in a long struggle with Islamic rebels for control of the capital city.

The Islamic fighters, allied with Al Qaida, have withdrawn from Mogadishu, said President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed. With the help of an African peacekeeping force, Ahmed’s government has asserted control over the capital.

Since the overthrow of Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991, Somalia has not had an effective national government. Control of the African nation has been disputed by rival warlords and, more recently, by Islamic forces. The resulting chaos and insecurity, and the hostility toward Christians and the West, have made it nearly impossible for relief organizations to deliver much-needed aid to Somalia during the current famine, which now menaces nearly half of the country's people.

Unfortunately, although the national government now claims control of Mogadishu, its effective power does not extend far beyond the capital, and the impasse for relief efforts is likely to continue.

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