Islamic gunmen attack key Somali port, airstrip

March 25, 2006 13:30

Hundreds of heavily armed Islamic militiamen launched an offensive Saturday to try to capture a key port and airstrip on the northeastern outskirts of Somalia's capital, witnesses said. About 300 fighters loyal to a group of radical Islamic clerics attacked a rival militia force in control of the main road leading to El Maan port and the Issaley airstrip, militia commanders said. There were reports of deaths, but an exact toll was unknown because intense fighting was continuing. Saturday's clash appeared to represent some of the heaviest of four days of bloodshed between the rival factions, which has killed at least 73 people.

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