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Somali Lawmakers Declare State of Emergency, Impose Martial Law


Lawmakers in Somalia's transitional parliament have authorized the government to impose martial law.

The 275-member parliament approved the measure Saturday during a session in the southern Somali town of Baidoa. Lawmakers declared a three-month state of emergency in the Horn of Africa nation, which has been mired in anarchy and chaos since warlords overthrew dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991.

The interim government is trying to establish its authority after government troops backed by Ethiopian forces drove out Islamist militias who seized control of most of Somalia from the warlords six months ago.

A government spokesman says the joint Somali-Ethiopian force captured the last remaining Islamist stronghold of Ras Kamboni, a southern coastal village located near the Kenyan border, on Friday.

Several warlords reached an agreement with interim President Abdullahi Yusuf Friday to disarm their militias and merge their forces into a new national army.

The agreement was marred by a gunfight between government troops and gunmen loyal to warlord Mohamed Qanyare that left at least six people dead and several wounded.

Witnesses say the fight broke out as the gunmen tried to force their way into the presidential palace in Mogadishu, where the talks were taking place.

Also on Friday, British-based aid agency Oxfam says Ethiopian and U.S. airstrikes have mistakenly targeted nomadic herdsmen in the Afmadow region, killing 70 people. The airstrikes were aimed at fleeing Islamic militants and suspected al Qaida fighters.

Somali officials have reported scores of deaths, but there has been no confirmation.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.