Heavy fighting broke out in central Somalia Sunday, officials said, a day after the transitional government rejected a peace initiative with the country's Islamic movement.
Islamic militia captured the town of Bandiradley after claiming they came under attack from pro-government militia backed by Ethiopian troops near the border of the semi-autonomous region of Puntland, one of the few areas still outside their control.
"The fighting is continuing and we are pursuing Puntland troops," Mohamed Mahmud Agaweyne, spokesman for the Islamic group in central Somalia, told The Associated Press by telephone. Sa'id Abdirahman Dakaweyne, a colonel with the Puntland militia, also confirmed the fighting.
Neither side would comment on casualties or the sizes of forces involved. However Agaweyne said they had captured two tanks and 11 pickup trucks mounted with machine guns, known locally as "technicals."