MELISSA BLOCK, Host:
NPR's Gwen Thompkins joins us from Mogadishu. And, Gwen, tell us about this latest installment with Islamists fleeing Kismayo, what happened?
GWEN THOMPKINS: The transitional government in Ethiopia said last week that the Islamic Courts Union no longer exists, which at the time could have been construed as propaganda. But may be they were right, or at the very least, maybe they understood an apparent division within the ranks of the Islamic Courts.
BLOCK: Now, when you talk about divisions within the Islamic Courts, what would those be?
THOMPKINS: Now, he's isn't back, and so in this instance, what the Islamic Courts Union's fighters found was that they had a headless organization, now in the thick of battle. Things unraveled from there. And by the time the remnants of the organization got to the Kismayo area, they were divided between standing for a fight or making plans to leave. And from what we found out today, many of them decided to just leave by any means necessary.
BLOCK: And in the meantime, you now have the transitional government at least nominally in control of Somalia. What are they doing to strengthen their hold on the country?
THOMPKINS: In fact, all day long today, I've heard nothing but gunfire. And I don't - I can't honestly tell you why people are firing their guns. It might be because they're testing them. It might be for some more nefarious reason. But guns are back. When the Islamic Courts Union left town, they reportedly opened their armory and gave their guns to some of the most hostile subclans in town. And it's going to be very interesting to see whether the transitional government is going to be able to disarm those clans and whether it's going to be forced to use force in order to do so.
BLOCK: That's NPR's Gwen Thompkins speaking with us from Mogadishu, Somalia. Gwen, thanks very much.
THOMPKINS: Thank you, Melissa.
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