Somali president names new military chief amid insurgent push

Somalia parliament approves appointment of new premier Nairobi/Mogadishu - Somali President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed has named a new military chief of staff in the midst of the fighting between government forces and Islamist insurgents pushing to topple his transitional government, Radio Garowe reported Friday.

The radio report said the new military chief is former police officer General Yusuf Osman Dhumal.

His precedecessor, General Said Dheere Mohamed, is now a security advisor to Sheikh Sharif, a government spokesman was cited as saying.

The appointment of Dhumal comes amid heavy fighting as Islamist surgents are pushing to topple the transitional government which they accuse of being too close to the West.

On Thursday, at least 10 persons were killed and more than 30 others wounded in fighting in Mogadishu alone. Two of those wounded were radio reporters who were reporting on the battles.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Nairobi expressed its concern about the high proportion of civilian casualties in the fighting.

This week alone more than 400 people, including many women and children were treated in Mogadishu's two remaining hospitals. Doctors and nurses were working "around the clock" in Mogadishu, an ICRC spokeswoman in Nairobi said.

Sheikh Sharif, who worked alongside many of the insurgents when his Islamic Courts Union (ICU) briefly ruled Somalia in 2006, came to power earlier this year as part of a Western-backed peace process.

The United Nations has condemned the push and said it is a desperate measure aimed at derailing Sheikh Sharif's attempts to build bridges and bring peace to Somalia. (dpa)

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