Somalian government forces backed by the Ethiopian army are closing in on the last major stronghold of Islamist forces after capturing the strategic outpost of Jilib on Sunday. The beseiged Somalia Islamic Courts Council is now reported to be confined to the southern city of Kismayu – a spokesman said they would continue to fight Ethiopians everywhere until they leave the country.
The Islamists are said to number some 3000 but lack tanks or planes to counter the much better equipped Somalian and Ethiopian troops. Meanwhile thousands of Somali civilians are reported to be fleeing the conflict zone. However refugee movements are smaller than had been predicted – some 170 000 Somalis have already taken refuge in Kenya following 15 years of intermittent fighting in the region.