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Rival Somali forces face off over flashpoint Sool zone

Armed forces from Somalia's rival northern regions faced off on Wednesday over a contested region, with both the United Nations and United States calling for calm. Troops from self-declared Somaliland in the northwest and soldiers from autonomous Puntland in the northeast have deployed around the town of Taleh, a contested zone in the northern Sool region. The two regions claim several areas in border regions including potentially valuable oil blocks, with both sides in certain cases issuing overlapping exploration licences.

Chastened by Islamists, Somalia redraws Mogadishu security plan

By Drazen Jorgic MOGADISHU (Reuters) - When Islamist militants blasted their way to within 50 meters of the Somali president's residence, they forced a sharp rethink of security in the capital Mogadishu. The deadly February 21 assault on the Villa Somalia compound was the closest al Qaeda-linked insurgents had got to President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.

Somali, African troops take central town from Islamists

Somali government forces fighting alongside African Union troops said they had taken back control of a key town Wednesday, driving Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab rebels from a major central bastion. El-Bur, some 350 kilometres (220 miles) northeast of the capital Mogadishu in the Galgadud region, is the latest town taken since the UN-backed AMISOM force launched a fresh offensive against the Shebab this month. The gunmen have largely fled ahead of the assaults, only to later stage guerrilla attacks.

Somalia, AU troops close in on key Shebab base

Somali government forces supported by African Union troops took control of a key southern town on Saturday as they closed in on a major bastion of Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab rebels, officials and witnesses said. Witnesses reported that the Somali and AMSIOM troops fought a heavy battle outside Qoryooley in lower Shabele region before finally wresting control of the town and closing on the Shebab coastal base of Barawe.

Somali militant strike kills peacekeepers, government troops

By Abdi Sheikh MOGADISHU (Reuters) - An al Shabaab suicide bomber rammed a car into the gates of a hotel used by African Union peacekeepers in central Somalia before gunmen sprayed the building with bullets, killing many, the al Qaeda-linked militant group and residents said. The night-time attack happened in Bulobarde, abandoned by al Shabaab last week as African troops advanced on the town in a new offensive aimed to flush the militants from the area. Bulobarde's streets were mostly deserted on Tuesday.

Car bomb targets African Union troops in Somalia

A convoy of the African Union's AMISOM force was targeted by a car bomb just outside the Somali capital on Monday, witnesses and a Somali army source said, though it was not immediately clear if there were any casualties. Contacted by AFP, a spokesman for the Shebab Islamist group said the group carried out the attack, saying it killed seven people, including three foreigners. The attack took place near a checkpoint on the road linking Mogadishu and the town of Afgoye, "where a suicide bomber rammed his car into an AMISOM convoy," witness Abdulahi Mohamed said.

African peacekeepers retake strategic Somali towns

African peacekeepers in Somalia operating with government forces have recaptured several strategic towns in the southwest from the Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab militia, officials said Sunday. The African Union's AMISOM force announced it had launched a widescale offensive on Thursday against the Islamist fighters in areas near the Ethiopian border. The operation comes in the wake of a surge of attacks in the Somali capital Mogadishu, where the Shebab is fighting to oust the internationally-backed government.

Somali Puntland worried Islamists may move its way: leader

By Richard Lough NAIROBI (Reuters) - An expected drive to purge Islamist rebels from southern Somalia risks pushing them north into an area at the tip of the Horn of Africa better known for its coastal pirates than al Shabaab insurgents. Semi-autonomous Puntland state, where one-third of Somalia's population lives, needs help from the African peacekeeping force AMISOM to secure its border with southern provinces, its regional president Abdiweli Mohamed Ali said on Wednesday.

Ugandan troops to form U.N. guard force in Somalia

MOGADISHU (Reuters) - Uganda will send about 400 extra troops to Somalia to protect U.N. personnel in the capital Mogadishu, officials said on Monday. The United Nations requested a guard force last year after al Shabaab militants attacked the main U.N. compound in Mogadishu in June, killing at least 22 people.

Suicide car bomb kills at least 10 in Somali capital

By Abdi Sheikh and Feisal Omar MOGADISHU (Reuters) - An Islamist militant suicide bomber drove a car into a Mogadishu cafe frequented by members of the security forces on Thursday, killing at least 10 people and blowing the place to bits. Al Shabaab said it had carried out the attack, which followed an assault by its fighters on the president's palace in the Somali capital last week.
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