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Islamists Take Control of Somali Capital's Port


Islamic authorities who control Somalia's capital have taken over the city's main port.

A local militia leader who is a member of Somalia's transitional government, Mohamed Jama Furuh, surrendered the port to the Mogadishu-based Council of Islamic Courts Wednesday.

The handover came a day after fighters loyal to the courts defeated a warlord who had defied the Islamic leaders' recently established rule over the capital.

A leader of the Islamic courts, Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed, says other government properties in Mogadishu must be handed over.

Meanwhile, the United Nations Security Council is considering requests from African nations to lift an arms embargo on Somalia.

The U.N.'s special envoy to Somalia, Francois Fall, said the move would allow an African peacekeeping force to enter the country, and would enable Somalia's transitional government to form its own army.

The government has U.N. backing but little power outside its base of Baidoa.

The envoy estimated that Islamists who have scored a string of victories now control 95 percent of Mogadishu, and 18 percent of Somalia.

The increasingly powerful Islamic courts have come out strongly against the proposed peacekeeping force.

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