08/07/08 (B455) Shabelle Network / Des centaines de citadins fuient les villes du centre de la Somalie, au fur et à mesure de l’avance des islamistes. Hundreds flee central Somali town as Islamists advance on (En Anglais – Info lecteur)

Hundreds of families fled their homes in the central Somali town of Beledweyne the provincial capital of Hiran region fearing from sudden fight might erupt near the town following the Islamic courts union fighters have moved on towards Ethiopian troop’s army bases near the town.

More than 800 people, carrying what they could, streamed out of the town of Beledweyne , 300 km north of Mogadishu Sunday morning where additional Islamic fighters were preparing for a fight against the Ethiopian troops based at the northern outskirt of the town.

The Islamic fighters took over the central Somali region of Hiran following the withdrawal of Ethiopian troops who had been protecting the local administration in Beledweyn.

The fighters set up an army post in the town entering inside the town.

On Saturday the UIC fighters have attacked traveling Ethiopian troops, who responded with heavy artillery shelling near the town, forcing most of the families living there to flee their homes as two armed vehicles of the Ethiopian troops burned in the attack.

Ethiopian troops crossed over to Somalia in late 2006 to assist Somali government forces topple an Islamist administration in south and central Somalia. Ethiopian stated then that it saw the group as a threat to its national security.

The fighters of the deposed Islamist movement had been waging nearly daily attacks on Somali government forces and officials and the Ethiopian troops backing them since February 2007.

Thousands have been killed, wounded or displaced from their homes by the on-going conflict.

The attacks on Somali and Ethiopian troops by Islamic fighters’ continued unabated despite the signing of a peace deal between a faction of the opposition coalition, the Alliance for the Reliberation of Somalia, and transitional Somali government culminating UN sponsored peace talks in Djibouti early last month.

Another faction of the alliance based in Asmara, the Eritrean capital, and the Al-shabaab Islamist group have boycotted the talks held in Djibouti last month.

They vowed to continue their attacks on Ethiopian and Somali government forces and officials until Ethiopian troops withdraw from Somalia.

Somalia has been without a central authority since the ouster of former Somali ruler Mohamed Siyad Barre in 1991.