The regional capital of the Middle Juba region, Bu’aale, southern Somalia, has been captured by militia opposed to the Transitional National Government TNG) in Mogadishu. Abdirahman Dinari, TNG director of information, confirmed to IRIN that the town had been taken, and said that at least nine people were killed in the attack and dozens wounded.
Bu’aale, some 450 km southwest of Mogadishu, was captured by militia led by General Muhammad Sa’id Hirsi Morgan of the Somali Patriotic Movement (SPM), on 28 July, sources told IRIN. The battle for the town started on 25 July when Morgan’s forces launched an offensive aimed at recapturing the port city of Kismayo, about 350 km southeast of Bu’aale, the Associated Press (AP) reported on 27 July. Kismayo is controlled by the Juba Valley Alliance (JVA), a grouping of Marehan, Ogadeni and Habar Gedir clans. The JVA, which supports the TNG, gained control of Kismayo in June 1999 when it expelled Morgan’s forces. Morgan is a member of the opposition Somali Reconciliation and Restoration Council, which brings together southern factions opposed to the TNG.