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Faction Siezes Somalia's Bossasso Port - 2002-05-08

Forces loyal to one of the two men claiming the presidency of Somalia's northeastern autonomous state of Puntland have seized the port town of Bossasso.

Reports from the Somali capital Mogadishu say militia belonging to Colonel Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed took over Bossasso, Puntland's commercial capital, early Wednesday. Their entry into the city followed a two-day advance from the south.

They met no resistance from forces loyal to President Jama Ali Jama, who had withdrawn from the city Tuesday. His whereabouts remains unclear.

Jama Ali Jama was elected by a congress of clan elders in November to replace Abdullahi Yusuf as president. Mr. Yusuf became president after the northeastern Somali region was founded as an autonomous state in August 1998. His mandate ended in August, but the Puntland parliament voted in June to extend the mandate for another three years.

The move however was rejected by the supreme court and elders who instead elected Jama Ali Jama president.

But Abdullahi Yusuf refused to quit, and the two men have since been fighting over the leadership of Puntland.