Somalia's Islamist Forces Vacate Last Stronghold In Somalia, interim-government troops backed by the Ethiopian government have been pushing an Islamist movement out of the country. Early Monday, the Islamist movement fled after giving up their last stronghold, Kismayo. Meanwhile, the transitional government is now trying to strengthen its hold on the country. Melissa talks with NPR's Gwen Thompkins in Somalia.
NPR logo

Somalia's Islamist Forces Vacate Last Stronghold

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/6707226/6707227" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Somalia's Islamist Forces Vacate Last Stronghold

Somalia's Islamist Forces Vacate Last Stronghold

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/6707226/6707227" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

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.

Copyright © 2007 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.