Growing Violence in Somali Region Forces Aid Workers Out
Growing Violence in Somali Region Forces Aid Workers Out

An al-Qaida-linked militant group in Somalia has captured a key town near the border with Kenya, sending hundreds of people fleeing across the border.

Witnesses tell VOA heavily armed fighters with the hardline Islamist group, al-Shabab, met no resistance when they rolled into the southern city of Dobley early Saturday.

Before al-Shabab moved in, witnesses say a rival militant group, Hizbul Islam, fled Dobley.

Fighting between the two groups in recent days has killed at least 15 people and wounded 25 others in the Dobley area.

The two groups have been battling for parts of the lower Jubba district, particularly the port of Kismayo, which has provided a key source of revenue.

A local elder tells VOA people are fleeing to refugee camps across the border in Kenya because Hizbul Islam militia are still in the area, and civilians fear fighting will break out again.

The radical groups were once allies in an effort to overthrow Somalia's moderate Islamist government.  They began fighting each other in October and later claimed they had resolved their dispute.

Islamist groups control much of southern Somalia and parts of the capital, Mogadishu, after a nearly three-year war against the transitional government.

The country has endured 18 years of chaos and conflict since the fall of the last stable central government in 1991.

Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.