Islamist fighters in Somalia expand scope of their offensive

WORLD DIGEST

December 24, 2006|By New York Times News Service

ZANZIBAR, Tanzania -- Islamist forces in Somalia expanded their offensive yesterday, witnesses said, and began attacking the seat of the transitional government from a new direction.

According to residents in the Bakal area north of Baidoa, the inland city where the transitional government is based, Islamist forces rushed in with several dozen pickup trucks bristling with heavy guns. Before this, their attacks had been limited to the south and the east of Baidoa, where they met stiff resistance and suffered many casualties.

In Mogadishu, the seaside capital of Somalia and the Islamists' stronghold, the Islamist defense chief put out a public call for Muslim fighters to join the war against the transitional government and the Ethiopian forces protecting it.

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