Somalia’s neighbours have called for the UN to impose a blockade on air strips and sea ports to prevent Islamists getting weapons and fighters.

The emergency meeting of East Africa’s Igad grouping also called for sanctions to be imposed on Eritrea, which denies charges it arms Islamist forces.

Igad officials want the international warships off the Somali coast hunting pirates to enforce the sea blockade.

Islamists have gained ground recently and control much of the south.

The Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (Igad) said a recent upsurge in fighting which had killed hundreds of people and forced thousands from their homes has been “exacerbated by an influx of foreign armed aggressors”.

Leaders of the Islamist al-Shabab group have admitted having links to al-Qaeda and global jihadists.

The Islamist-controlled ports of Kismayo and Merca should be subject to a blockade “to prevent the further in-flow of arms and foreign fighters”, said an Igad statement said after a meeting in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.

They also want flights halted to the numerous air strips under Islamist control.

They stress, however, that government approved humanitarian flights should be allowed to continue.


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