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Somali troops tighten hold on Mogadishu

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Somali troops tighten hold on Mogadishu

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Somali troops backed by Ethiopian allies are tightening their hold on the capital Mogadishu after a lightning conflict in which they forced their Islamist rivals to flee. They have now taken control of the US embassy abandoned more than a decade ago after US forces made a humiliating retreat from Somalia. Many residents fear a return of chaos to Mogadishu after the departure of the Islamists who had managed to impose a semblance of order in the capital.

The government says the Islamists have fled to the southern port city of Kismayu adding that its troops now control 95 percent of the territory. Since seizing the capital in June, the Islamic Courts Council had spread across the south imposing strict Sharia rule.

Thousands of people have been killed in the 10-day conflict. Many have been forced to flee their homes though no large-scale displacement has been reported. The United Nations has announced a resumption of humanitarian shipments to Somalia after aid flights were suspended temporarily during the fighting. Parliament is expected to declare martial law on Saturday for three months.