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Somali Islamist Rebels Said To Be Abandoning Mogadishu

A malnourished child rests at a hospital in Mogadishu.
Somalia's main Islamist rebel group says it has pulled out of parts of the capital, where its members have been fighting African peacekeepers and the Somali government for years.

A spokesman for the Al Shebab Islamist rebel group, Sheikh Ali Mohamud Rage, announced on the group's Andalus radio station today that they "abandoned" part of Mogadishu overnight but "remain in other towns."

Al Shebab is believed to have ties to Al-Qaeda and controls much of the country's famine-afflicted south.

The group formed in 2007 and has since been trying to overthrow the government, which has not been fully functioning for 20 years.

The violence has killed tens of thousands of people.

Somali government spokesman Abdirahman Omar Osman told the Reuters news agency that the withdrawal is a "golden day" for the country.

The extent of the rebels' pullout was not immediately clear.

compiled from agency reports

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