Somalia orders closure of borders

Baidoa, Somalia - The weak Somali government on Monday ordered the close of its land and sea borders as fighting between the Ethiopian troops and the country's Islamist movement raged, officials said.

"After a cabinet session, we have decided to close (all) borders for security reasons," government spokesperson Abdirahman Nur told reporters.

The order came as Ethiopian war planes bombed Islamist-held airports on the capital Mogadishu and a southern town of Beldogle, where the Islamists receive supplies.

Addis Ababa said it carried out the attacks after it observed some unauthorised flights at the facilities despite a ban by the government.

Fighting between the Islamists and Ethiopian troops raged on the sixth day in Somalia, heightening fears that the conflict could spread to the region, drawing in Addis Ababa's arch-rival Asmara which is accused of supporting the Islamists.

The order came as the World Food Programme (WFP) said it continued dropping relief supplies to civilians affected by recent floods and had not received official notification of the closure.

"On WFP's part, operations continued on Sunday. Antonov 12 operating from Mombasa carried out an airdrop of 14 metric tonnes of food into Afmadow district in Lower Juba," WFP spokesperson Peter Smerdon said in Nairobi.

"WFP appeals to the parties to allow humanitarian operations to continue unhindered and in safety," he added.

It remained unclear how the government would effect the order.


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