Ethiopians reinvade western Somalia - the fighting rages on

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Offline Biggs

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Ethiopians reinvade western Somalia - the fighting rages on
« on: September 24, 2008, 10:35:57 AM »
Peacekeepers targeted in Somalia
 
People have started fleeing the worst violence in months

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/7632823.stm

Renewed fighting has broken out in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, with African Union peacekeepers coming under attack from Islamist insurgents.


At least 15 civilians have died since clashes erupted late on Tuesday and people are fleeing the city.

Insurgents attacked Ugandan peacekeepers, who responded with tank and artillery fire.

On Monday about 30 people were killed and dozens wounded in some of the worst violence Mogadishu has seen in months.

The BBC's Mohammed Olad Hassan in Mogadishu says Islamist insurgents have been gaining ground in the city in their fight against the Ethiopian-backed government.

Observers say there has been a change in tactics, with Islamists switching from hit-and-run raids to sustained attacks against peacekeepers.

'Deafening gunfire'

Tuesday's clashes happened in the south of the city.

Our reporter says heavily armed insurgents attacked the AU base at K4 - a strategic junction in the south of the city linking the airport and the presidential palace.

Peacekeepers at the K4 base responded by shelling Bakara market, a scene of frequent fighting where most of the victims of Monday's violence were killed.     A shell hit our house, my father was killed and his body is here
Woman in Mogadishu

Peacekeepers mired in Somalia


The sounds of deafening gunfire and bombardments could be heard throughout the city overnight, he says.

It was the third sleepless night for residents and the second serious attack against AU peacekeepers in a week.

Peacekeepers have generally been considered friendly since their arrival last year, and residents have been upset by the scale of their retaliation, our reporter says.

Maj Bahoku Barigye, an spokesman for the African Union Mission to Somalia (Amisom), said the peacekeepers had not suffered any causalities nor had their moral been affected.

He denied that the attacks were getting worse.

"I have been here for about eight months and I have not seen any difference whatsoever," he told the BBC's Network Africa programme.

'No lost cause'

But people living by the AU bases have started to flee their homes.

"A shell hit our house, my father was killed and his body is here, and I don't know where anybody else is," a distressed woman in the capital told the BBC's Somali Service.

Local residents told AFP news agency that shelling killed four people in one house and three in another area.
 
Most of the AU peacekeepers in Somalia are from Uganda


Somalia has been wracked by conflict since 1991, when former President Mohamed Siad Barre was overthrown.

The Ethiopians intervened in 2006 to help the government oust Islamist forces from the capital and surrounding regions.

The Islamists then launched an insurgency against Somalia's transitional government.

David Shinn, a former US diplomat who teaches at the George Washington University, said fighters from the hardline al-Shabab militia were trying to assert their authority in order to force the Ethiopians out.

They are trying "to show that they are in a position to perhaps even take control of Mogadishu if the Ethiopian forces were to leave", he told the BBC.

Maj Barigye said it was unrealistic to expect a quick resolution to Somalia's long-running conflict.

"There is no lost cause here," he said.

"It's just a question of time, a question of patience, it's a question of tolerance, it's a question of understanding."

Only Uganda and Burundi have contributed troops to the AU peacekeeping force, which has just 2,000 troops of the 8,000 planned.

But Mr Shinn said adding more peacekeepers would not help.

"The only way out of this mess at the moment is to have a successful negotiation between moderates and the Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia, the ARS, and the transitional federal government," he said.

The UN has been leading peace negotiations over Somalia in neighbouring Djibouti, but al-Shabab has so far rejected the process.

A ceasefire due to be signed at the end of last week has been delayed for another month.
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Offline Biggs

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Re: AU troops attacked by insurgents in Somalia
« Reply #1 on: September 24, 2008, 05:39:13 PM »
Somalis flee Mogadishu gun battles

Mogadishu residents have been seen fleeing in packed vehicles or on foot [AFP]

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/africa/2008/09/2008924710479926.html



Hundreds of Somalis have fled Mogadishu after several days of heavy fighting between anti-government fighters and Somali troops, supported by the Ethiopian military and African Union peacekeepers.

Witnesses said residents could be seen leaving the city aboard packed minibuses and lorries or on foot early on Wednesday

"I believe staying in Mogadishu is ... taking a risk because many civilians died yesterday and warring sides are still sharpening their swords for fresh attacks," Shamso Mohamed Ali, a mother of two, told the AFP news agency.

Fatuma Kassim, a mother-of-seven, said: "We have no hope now and I think this is the end of Mogadishu."

Aid agencies say that about one million Somalis live as internal refugees.

Heavy shelling

Residents said that there was heavy shelling overnight as AU forces clashed with armed men opposed to the Somali government, as well as the presence of Ethiopian and AU forces.

A group calling itself the Mujahidins of Raskamboni said that attacked one of the peacekeepers' bases sparking the fighting.

"This is the heaviest fighting ever since the AU deployed. I have seen the African Union forces using tanks"

Farah Hassan,
Mogadishu resident

It was a retaliatory attack against the African forces and it was the heaviest ever waged against them," Mohamoud Dulyadeyn, a spokesman, said.


He said that his group "operates in Somali territories carrying out attacks against the enemy of Allah".

At least seven civilians were killed by artillery fire in two districts of southern Mogadishu, witnesses said.

"This is the heaviest fighting ever since the AU deployed. I have seen the African Union forces using tanks," Farah Hassan, a Mogadishu resident, said.

"I have seen many civilians crowded in minibuses [leaving the battle zone] and there was no access to hospital for the wounded in the whole neighbourhood."

Residents of the Taleh district told AFP that the shelling shattered many residential houses and set fire to a number of businesses.

Hostages removed

In another development, Ethiopian fficials and the Paris-based Medecins du Monde said on Tuesday that two foreign aid workers kidnapped in Ethiopia have been taken  to central Somalia.

Local Somali authorities have sent security officials to seek the hostages' freedom from the unidentified abductors.

"We have sent security forces to search for the aid workers, who were brought to the region late yesterday," Ali Sheikh Hashi, a local official, said.

The pair, both employees of the French aid agency, were seized from Fadhigaradle village where they were visiting drought-hit areas in Ethiopia on Monday, Hareri Hassan Barre, the commissioner for the Balanbale district in central Somalia, said.

Kidnappings confirmed

Medecins du Monde confirmed the abductions, but did not give the  nationality of its employees.

"The organisation is in permanent contact with the authorities, its team on the ground as well as other actors in the field," it said in a statement.

Somali fighters freed on Monday a German national and his Somali wife who had been abducted over the weekend in the northern Somali breakaway state of Puntland, where kidnapping is endemic.

Kidnappers have also been holding three journalists - a  Canadian, an Australian and a Somali - since August 23 and are reportedly demanding $2.5 million for their release.

Gaining strength

The fighting in Somalia came after gun battles had broken out in several areas of Mogadishu over the weekend following an attack on the international airport as an African Union aircraft was landing. Scores of people have been killed in recent days.

Anti-government fighters appear to have gained strength in recent weeks with the al-Shabaab armed group, an offshoot of the Islamic Courts' Union, which controlled much of Somalia in 2006, attacking AU bases and removing government checkpoints.

Sheikh Muktar Roboow, a spokesman for the movement, has vowed that attacks against the 2,000 AU peacekeepers, many of whom are based at the airport, will be intensified

"We are going to double our attacks against the AU forces. The only option they have is to leave our country," he said.

The troops were deployed in March 2007 to help Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, the president, bring the nation under the government's control.
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Offline Biggs

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Re: AU troops attacked by insurgents in Somalia
« Reply #2 on: September 26, 2008, 08:17:28 AM »
Twenty killed in fighting in Somalia
Xinhua
Mogadishu, September 24, 2008
Published: 20:27 IST (24/9/2008)

http://www.hindustantimes.com/StoryPage/StoryPage.aspx?sectionName=HomePage&id=d3dc72ff-badf-4755-ab8d-43eac6c9c133&&Headline=Twenty+killed+in+fighting+in+Somalia&strParent=strParentID

Twenty civilians were killed and 33 wounded in heavy artillery exchange between insurgents and African Union (AU) peacekeepers in Somalia, witnesses and hospital sources said on Wednesday.


Witnesses in Hawlwadag, Hodon and K4 areas said a number of mortar and artillery shells landed in local neighbourhoods after insurgents attacked the bases of AU peacekeepers, who then retaliated with heavy artillery.

"Five people died in a house near ours when artillery shell hit their house overnight," a witness said.

Fifteen other were reportedly killed by the shelling in neighbourhoods in south Mogadishu where insurgents have been attacking AU peacekeepers for the third day running.

Hospital sources say that 33 wounded civilians were admitted in the hospitals after being wounded by the shelling.

Sources said that many people died of blood loss as the wounded could not be taken to the hospital in time.

Nearly 2,600 AU peacekeeping troops from Uganda and Burundi are currently deployed in Mogadishu. The troops are part of a UN authorized 8,000-strong AU peacekeeping force in Somalia.
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Offline Biggs

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Re: AU troops attacked by insurgents in Somalia
« Reply #3 on: September 30, 2008, 06:18:00 PM »
Ethiopia's Quagmire

Jesse Walker | September 29, 2008, 9:34am
The U.S.-backed occupation runs into trouble:
Nearly two years after being driven from Mogadishu, Islamists have re-taken swathes of south Somalia and may have their sights again on the capital.

The insurgents' push is being led by Al Shabaab, or "Youth" in Arabic, the most militant in a wide array of groups opposed to the Somali government and military backers from Ethiopia, an ally in Washington's "War on Terror"....

Analysts say Islamists or Islamist-allied groups now control most of south Somalia, with the exception of Mogadishu, Baidoa where parliament is protected by Ethiopian troops, and Baladwayne near the border where Addis Ababa garrisons soldiers.

That is a remarkable turnaround from the end of 2006, when allied Somali-Ethiopian troops chased the Islamists out of Mogadishu after a six-month rule of south Somalia, scattering them to sea, remote hills and the Kenyan border.

The Islamists regrouped to begin an insurgency that has killed nearly 10,000 civilians. Military discipline, grassroots political work, youth recruitment and an anti-Ethiopian rallying cry have underpinned their return, analysts say.
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Re: AU troops attacked in Somalia, insurgents now control much of south
« Reply #4 on: September 30, 2008, 06:21:38 PM »
Somali government to be moved to Kenya
Tue, 30 Sep 2008 14:45:01 GMT

http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=70950&sectionid=351020501

 
Somalia's President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed

Somalia's Transitional Federal Government (TFG) will reportedly be relocated to the Kenyan capital of Nairobi amid a surge in violence.

The African Union convened an urgent meeting on Tuesday and decided to relocate the 275-member Somali parliament along with President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein and the Somali cabinet, the Press TV's correspondent in Somalia reported.

This comes as violence plagues the country on a daily basis, threatening civilians and government officials alike.

It is not yet clear what prompted the decision, but there have been unconfirmed reports that Somali government officials intend to meet with opposition leaders in an attempt to establish a coalition government.

The Transitional Federal Parliament of the Somali Republic was formed in neighboring Kenya in 2004. The interim parliament was then relocated to the Somali city of Baidoa, 260 kilometers northwest of Mogadishu, on February 26, 2006.

Meanwihile heavy fighting near the Somali presidential palace on Monday night killed eight civilians and 17 soldiers. Several lawmakers have recently been killed in the ongoing violence.
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Re: AU troops attacked in Somalia, insurgents now control much of south
« Reply #5 on: October 02, 2008, 02:20:55 PM »
Silent Surge: Bipartisan Terror War Intensifies in Somalia
Chris Floyd

www.uruknet.info?p=47669

www.chris-floyd.com/component/content/article/3/1619-silent-surge-bipartisan-ter
   ror-war-intensifies-in-somalia.html

October 1, 2008

"The soul of a nation is under the knife...." -- Bob Dylan


In the recent presidential "debate," both candidates expressed their eager, unstinting, even feverish support for the so-called "War on Terror" being waged by Washington and its proxies around the world.

Indeed, throughout the entire campaign, Barack Obama and John McCain have repeatedly pledged their fealty to the Terror War, and all that it entails: an even larger war machine (with even more public boodle for war profiteers); a continued military presence in Iraq (under one guise or another); a substantial expansion of the hate-fomenting war in Afghanistan (with a concomitant raise in "collateral damage"); an extension of that war into Pakistan (destabilizing and radicalizing a fractious state with a nuclear arsenal); pressing ever closer to the threshold of war with Iran (with bellicose threats, blockades and demonizing propaganda); establishing even more military satrapies to exercise dominion over the regions of the earth (including new proconsular commands for Africa and the United States itself); and -- as we have noted here over and over -- the bloody rendering of Somalia into a boiling, hellish cauldron of slaughter, suffering and chaos.

Somalia is the invisible third front of the Terror War, an American-backed "regime change" operation launched by the invading army of Ethiopia and local warlords in December 2006. In addition to helping arm, fund and train the army of the Ethiopian dictatorship, the United States has intervened directly into the conflict, carrying out bombing raids on fleeing refugees and nomads, firing missiles into villages, sending in death squads to clean up after covert operations, and, as we reported here long ago, assisting in the "rendition" of refugees, including American citizens, into the hands of Ethiopia's notorious torturers. [See note below for more links.]

Together, the American Terror Warriors, the Ethiopians and the warlords (some of them directly in the pay of the CIA) have created the worst humanitarian disaster on earth. Thousands have been killed in the fighting. Hundreds of thousands have been driven from their homes, many fleeing to northern Kenya, where more than 215,000 people are languishing in a single refugee camp in Dadaab; 45,000 people have poured into the camp this year alone, says the UN. In some of the camps, Somali refugees are living without any shelter at all: "The BBC's Mark Doyle, who has recently visited the camps in Kenya, says some refugees do not even have a basic plastic sheet to protect them from the sun and rain."

In just the last two weeks, more than 18,500 people have fled the capital of Mogadishu, which has already been decimated by the warfare. Many were sent on the run by one of the Ethiopians' favorite tactics: mortar and artillery fire into civilian areas believed "sympathetic" to the insurgents.

The United States is not only backing the Ethiopians and the Somali transitional government (TGF) propped up by the occupation; Washington has also provided "robust financial and logistical support to armed paramilitaries resisting the command and control of the TGF," according to a major new study of the conflict by the human rights organization, Enough. In addition to these freebooters, it turns out that the wide-ranging Somali pirates -- who last week hijacked a shipload of heavy weapons being funneled into African conflicts by Ukrainian war profiteers -- are supported by "backers linked to the Western-backed government" in Mogadishu.

In other words, the United States is sponsoring a hydra-headed conflict that spews fire and destruction in every direction, and is trampling an already ravaged people deeper into the dirt. It is by any measure -- even the mass-murdering standards of our day -- a sickening abomination, a war crime of staggering proportions. Yet it goes on, day after day, without the slightest comment, much less criticism, from the entire bipartisan political establishment, and almost all of the media -- including most of the "dissident" blogosphere. The Somalis are simply non-people, a nation of ghosts, unseen and unseeable.

II.
An exception to the media's "cloud of unknowing" around Somalia appeared this week in Salon.com, where Jennifer Daskal put a human face on a single aspect of the Terror War atrocity: rendition. From a refugee camp in Kenya, she writes:
Quote
Ishmael, a 37-year-old shepherd from the Ogaden region in Ethiopia, looked at me with tears in his eyes. Ethiopian forces -- who had already killed his mother, father, brothers and sisters -- murdered his wife days after they were married. They then slaughtered his goats, beat him unconscious, and slashed his shoulder to the bone, he said.

In December 2006, Ishmael crossed through Somalia into Kenya, heading for the nearest refugee camp in search of medical care. But when he didn't have enough money to pay a 1,000 shilling ($15) bribe, the Kenyan police bundled him into a car and took him to Nairobi. Less than a month later, he was herded onto an airplane with some 30 others, flown to Somalia and handed over to the Ethiopian military -- the same forces that he previously fled.

Ishmael is a victim of a 2007 rendition program in the Horn of Africa, involving Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and the United States. There are at least 90 more victims like him. Most have since been sent home. A few -- including a Canadian and nine who assert Kenyan nationality -- remain in detention even now. The whereabouts of 22 others -- including several Somalis, Ethiopian Ogadenis, and Eritreans -- remain unknown....

[In the immediate aftermath of the invasion], Kenyan authorities arrested at least 150 men, women and children from more than 18 countries -- including the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada -- in operations near the Somali border, and held them for weeks without charge in Nairobi. In January and February 2007, the Kenyan government then unlawfully put dozens of these individuals -- with no notice to families, lawyers or the detainees themselves -- on flights to Somalia, where they were handed over to the Ethiopian military. Ethiopian forces also arrested an unknown number of people in Somalia....

An unknown number of them -- likely dozens -- were questioned by the Central Intelligence Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation agents in Addis Ababa. From February to May 2007, Ethiopian security officers daily transported detainees -- including several pregnant women -- to a villa where U.S. officials interrogated them about suspected terrorist links. At night the Ethiopian officers returned the detainees to their cells....

 In addition to working with the U.S., the Ethiopians used the rendition program for their own ends. For years, the Ethiopian military has been trying to quell domestic Ogadeni and Oromo insurgencies that receive support from neighboring countries, such as Ethiopia's archrival, Eritrea. The multinational rendition program provided them a convenient means to continue this internal battle -- and get their hands, with U.S. and Kenyan support, on those with suspected insurgent links.

Ishmael was one of their victims.

The questions his Ethiopian interrogators asked were nonstop, and always the same: "Are you al-Qaida? Are you an Ogadeni rebel? Are you part of the Somali insurgency?" Each time he said no, he was beaten, sometimes to the point of unconsciousness. When he resisted answering, they targeted his testicles.

Then, in February 2008 -- some 14 months after his original arrest -- the Ethiopians decided Ishmael was no longer worth the trouble. They dumped him, along with 27 others, just over the Somali border....Now Ishmael is back in the refugee camp, limping and urinating blood. He is still waiting for the healthcare he came searching for nearly two years ago.

Deskal's story is marred by the same timidity with which groups like Human Rights Watch (where she serves as senior counterrorism counsel) general take when discussing American direction of and complicity in war crimes. These references are often couched in terms of "a perception" (or even misperceptions!) of American intentions. The latter are always given the benefit of doubt and qualification. Still, it requires little reading between the lines to see the confirmation of what every honest observer of the conflict can see: the Terror War operation is creating more of the violent extremism that it purports to combat:

Almost everyone I spoke with assumed -- whether true or not -- that the United States backed the arbitrary arrest and unlawful rendition of men like Ishmael and the still-detained Kenyans. Almost everyone assumed that the Ethiopians operate with America's blessing.

They "assume" these things, of course, because they are true.

Quote
Their stories have circulated, fueling anger and resentment. As one man, whose childhood friend became one of the rendition victims, told me, "Now when I go to the mosque, I pray to God to punish the Americans."

....The U.S. is funding the Ethiopian military, supporting its activities in Somalia and training Kenyan security forces in counterterrorism -- so as U.S.-backed military and police forces in the region brutalize their domestic opponents in the name of fighting terrorism, the United States is often blamed.
Gee, I wonder why? If I hire a killer, give him a gun and directions to your house, and he goes and blows out the brains of your children, who are you going to blame? Or as I put it a few weeks ago:

Quote
Mass death, mass ruin and immeasurable human suffering: this is what the War on Terror does. This is what the War on Terror is all about. It can have no other outcome. When someone supports the War on Terror -- as Barack Obama, John McCain, Sarah Palin and Joe Biden all do, with eagerness and enthusiasm -- this is what they are embracing. They are dipping their hands in innocent blood.

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Offline Biggs

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Re: Situation worsens in Somalia, insurgents now control much of south
« Reply #6 on: October 04, 2008, 01:06:47 PM »
Somalian Violence Rages, UN Says 80 Civilians Have Died In Past Two Weeks

October 3, 2008 10:11 AM EST | 
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/10/03/somalian-violence-rages-u_n_131588.html

GENEVA
— The United Nations says fighting has killed at least 80 civilians in Somalia's capital over the last two weeks. More than 100 people have been injured.

U.N. humanitarian office spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs says the true number of injured is probably higher because figures are unavailable for some hospitals in Mogadishu.

Violence has raged between government forces and Islamic militants since last month.

Byrs says thousands have been driven from their homes in the last two weeks. She told reporters Friday that nearly half of Somalia's 8.3 million people need food and other assistance.

Recent droughts and high food prices have added to the country's problems. Somalia has been without a stable government for more than 17 years.
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Re: Situation worsens in Somalia, insurgents now control much of south
« Reply #7 on: October 04, 2008, 03:11:10 PM »
What Nobody Wants To Know About Somalia And Why; And What That Means
Winter Patriot

www.uruknet.info?p=47713

Link: winterpatriot.blogspot.com/2008/10/what-nobody-wants-to-know-about-somalia.html

October 3, 2008


A huge war crime -- a massive crime against humanity -- is going on right now in Somalia, courtesy of (but only indirectly traceable to) the Bush administration and Washington's bipartisan power elite. But, aside from Chris Floyd and a few other internet madmen, nobody knows -- or even wants to know -- much about it.

What's happening? And why doesn't anybody want to know? These are troubling questions for anyone who cares about the soul of America, and even more troubling for anyone who's beginning to suspect that America has no soul at all.

Chris Floyd:
Somalia is the invisible third front of the Terror War, an American-backed "regime change" operation launched by the invading army of Ethiopia and local warlords in December 2006. In addition to helping arm, fund and train the army of the Ethiopian dictatorship, the United States has intervened directly into the conflict, carrying out bombing raids on fleeing refugees and nomads, firing missiles into villages, sending in death squads to clean up after covert operations, and [...] assisting in the "rendition" of refugees, including American citizens, into the hands of Ethiopia's notorious torturers.
Bombing raids on fleeing refugees? Oh, yes. And much more, too. These people look hungry. We'd better kill them!

And the longer it goes on, the worse it gets.

When Chris Floyd writes, "Somalia is the invisible third front of the Terror War", he's probably counting chronologically starting from 9/11: in this sense Afghanistan is #1 (we started attacking in October of 2001; let's forget about the summer of '79) and Iraq is #2 (officially March of 2003, but in reality January 1991, and long before then as a matter of fact), which would make Somalia #3 (December 2006, and long before then, too!) and the recently opened and more recently acknowledged, still partly-deniable war-against-our-ally Pakistan as #4. And then Iran would be #5, or maybe it already is? But -- oops! -- did we forget to count the Terror War against the Home Front?

It soon gets too complicated to sort out, and therein lies one of the problems. The world is too big and too chaotic; we are too small and too stupid; we will never be able to deal with all of it. (I've been blogging for almost four years now and there are still large parts of the world that I have never even mentioned! It doesn't mean I don't care; usually it means I don't know enough to say anything authoritative, in which case I prefer to remain silent. But still ... where's my coverage of Darfur? And that's just one example.)

We prefer good news to bad, especially when times are tough. And it doesn't take much to overload on bad news these days. But still ... How can we ignore things like this?
Together, the American Terror Warriors, the Ethiopians and the warlords (some of them directly in the pay of the CIA) have created the worst humanitarian disaster on earth. Thousands have been killed in the fighting. Hundreds of thousands have been driven from their homes, many fleeing to northern Kenya, where more than 215,000 people are languishing in a single refugee camp in Dadaab; 45,000 people have poured into the camp this year alone, says the UN. In some of the camps, Somali refugees are living without any shelter at all: "The BBC's Mark Doyle, who has recently visited the camps in Kenya, says some refugees do not even have a basic plastic sheet to protect them from the sun and rain."

In just the last two weeks, more than 18,500 people have fled the capital of Mogadishu, which has already been decimated by the warfare. Many were sent on the run by one of the Ethiopians' favorite tactics: mortar and artillery fire into civilian areas believed "sympathetic" to the insurgents.

The United States is not only backing the Ethiopians and the Somali transitional government (TGF) propped up by the occupation; Washington has also provided "robust financial and logistical support to armed paramilitaries resisting the command and control of the TGF," according to a major new study of the conflict by the human rights organization, Enough. In addition to these freebooters, it turns out that the wide-ranging Somali pirates -- who last week hijacked a shipload of heavy weapons being funneled into African conflicts by Ukrainian war profiteers -- are supported by "backers linked to the Western-backed government" in Mogadishu.
We're reading more from Chris Floyd, of course; who else? Floyd's writing is unique, both in its stylish command of the language and in its content: for instance, hardly anybody else ever bothers to write about Somalia. The big media -- mainstream and other -- avoid mentioning it at almost every opportunity, and most of what does get published is sanitized in one way or half a dozen, with writers and editors falling over each other to avoid placing the blame for this horrendous situation where it obviously belongs.

But not Chris Floyd: whenever he digs up news from "the invisible third front", he writes about it, and he counters the spin. He puts the news in context; he explains what it means in terms of the big picture, just like he always does, whether he's writing about Iraq or Afghanistan, or the Home Front, or any other place.

But -- remarkably, sadly, and altogether too revealingly, in my opinion -- when Chris Floyd writes about Somalia, his website traffic goes through a hole in the floor.

So hardly anybody bothered to visit Floyd's remarkable site, Empire Burlesque, on the day when he posted the passage quoted above, along with excerpts from a piece by Jennifer Beskal at Salon:
Ishmael, a 37-year-old shepherd from the Ogaden region in Ethiopia, looked at me with tears in his eyes. Ethiopian forces -- who had already killed his mother, father, brothers and sisters -- murdered his wife days after they were married. They then slaughtered his goats, beat him unconscious, and slashed his shoulder to the bone, he said.

In December 2006, Ishmael crossed through Somalia into Kenya, heading for the nearest refugee camp in search of medical care. But when he didn't have enough money to pay a 1,000 shilling ($15) bribe, the Kenyan police bundled him into a car and took him to Nairobi. Less than a month later, he was herded onto an airplane with some 30 others, flown to Somalia and handed over to the Ethiopian military -- the same forces that he previously fled.

Ishmael is a victim of a 2007 rendition program in the Horn of Africa, involving Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and the United States. There are at least 90 more victims like him. Most have since been sent home. A few -- including a Canadian and nine who assert Kenyan nationality -- remain in detention even now. The whereabouts of 22 others -- including several Somalis, Ethiopian Ogadenis, and Eritreans -- remain unknown....

[In the immediate aftermath of the invasion], Kenyan authorities arrested at least 150 men, women and children from more than 18 countries -- including the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada -- in operations near the Somali border, and held them for weeks without charge in Nairobi. In January and February 2007, the Kenyan government then unlawfully put dozens of these individuals -- with no notice to families, lawyers or the detainees themselves -- on flights to Somalia, where they were handed over to the Ethiopian military. Ethiopian forces also arrested an unknown number of people in Somalia....

An unknown number of them -- likely dozens -- were questioned by the Central Intelligence Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation agents in Addis Ababa. From February to May 2007, Ethiopian security officers daily transported detainees -- including several pregnant women -- to a villa where U.S. officials interrogated them about suspected terrorist links. At night the Ethiopian officers returned the detainees to their cells....

In addition to working with the U.S., the Ethiopians used the rendition program for their own ends. For years, the Ethiopian military has been trying to quell domestic Ogadeni and Oromo insurgencies that receive support from neighboring countries, such as Ethiopia's archrival, Eritrea. The multinational rendition program provided them a convenient means to continue this internal battle -- and get their hands, with U.S. and Kenyan support, on those with suspected insurgent links.

Ishmael was one of their victims.

The questions his Ethiopian interrogators asked were nonstop, and always the same: "Are you al-Qaida? Are you an Ogadeni rebel? Are you part of the Somali insurgency?" Each time he said no, he was beaten, sometimes to the point of unconsciousness. When he resisted answering, they targeted his testicles.

Then, in February 2008 -- some 14 months after his original arrest -- the Ethiopians decided Ishmael was no longer worth the trouble. They dumped him, along with 27 others, just over the Somali border....Now Ishmael is back in the refugee camp, limping and urinating blood. He is still waiting for the healthcare he came searching for nearly two years ago.
Why do people read Chris Floyd? Because he's a fantastic writer; because he's a tireless researcher; because he always tells us the truth, no matter how horrible; because he directs our attention to vital stories we otherwise might have missed; and surely there are more good reasons.

Which of these reasons are negated when Chris writes about Somalia?

None, of course. That was a rhetorical question. Now here's a real one: Why does the whole world run away from Chris Floyd's articles about Somalia?

Is it because the victims of the war crime in Somalia are blacker than the victims of the war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan?

Is it because the roots of the war crime in Somalia reflect badly on both Bill Clinton and George Bush?

Is it because we can't stand reading about more than two war crimes on the same day, and Iraq and Afghanistan fill our quota?

Is it because the war crime in Somalia is a proxy war crime, being fought under the flag of the invading Ethopians?

Are Americans are too lazy and too stupid to connect the dots -- the dots between funding, arming, supplying, motivating and supporting an invading army; and actually being responsible for the invasion?

Is it because no Americans are being killed there?

Or is it because the stories coming out of Somalia are so gruesome?

Floyd's newest post contains an update on renditions in the Somalia war crime, from the BBC:
Among [the fleeing refugees] were Salim Awadh, a Kenyan, and his Tanzanian wife, Fatma Chande. Both of them were arrested as they crossed the border [from Somalia to Kenya in January 2007].

"I was kept in a cell with other women. Then the Kenyan anti-terrorist police questioned me - they asked me why we went to Somalia," Fatma says.

I meet Fatma in her small two-room house in Moshi, northern Tanzania. She is quietly spoken and her voice falters as she explains what happened next.

"I told them my husband got a job repairing mobile phones in Somalia. But they tried to force me to admit that my husband was a terrorist. They said I had to tell them the truth or they would strangle me."

...In the first weeks of early 2007, news began to filter out that several hundred people - including children - had been arrested trying to enter Kenya.

Al Amin Kimathi, the head of Kenya's Muslim Human Rights Forum, sent volunteers to police stations across the capital, Nairobi, trying to collect information.

"Some very frustrated senior police officers told us point blank: it's not our operation, go and ask the Americans, just call the American embassy. We even saw the Americans bring in detainees and take them out of certain police stations in Nairobi," he said.

Many of the refugees were sent back to Somalia, and then "renditioned" onward to Ethiopia.

"A week after we arrived we were interrogated by whites - Americans, British, I was interrogated for weeks," Salim says....

Former detainees have also told the BBC they were questioned by US agents. One said he was beaten by Americans.

...Al Amin Kimathi believes Ethiopia was seen as the ideal destination.

"It was the most natural place to take anyone looking for a site to go and torture and to extract confessions. Ethiopia allows torture of detainees. And that is the modus operandi in renditions."

...More than a year and a half after the renditions, the US government still refuses to respond to questions on the alleged US role.

...Meanwhile Fatma is still waiting anxiously for news of her husband.

After Salim got access to a mobile phone, he was able to speak to her from his cell for the first time in more than a year.

Now the phone has stopped working, Salim has disappeared once again.
Chris appends this note:
I know that no one cares about this. I know that the fact that thousands of Somalis have been slaughtered and millions more driven into suffering and desolation by a vicious war being conducted at every step with American assistance, in America's name -- in your name, if you're an American -- is not nearly as important as whether or not Joe Biden strikes the proper tone in his "debate" with Sarah Palin tonight. I know that even to most true-blue "progressives," the Somalis are non-people -- except when they show up as wild-eyed beserkers on late-night re-runs of "Black Hawk Down." I know that every time I write about Somalia, the traffic for the site plummets like the stock of a clapped-out merchant bank just before it gets a government bailout. But I don't really care. With the full approval of the entire bipartisan political elite, America is breeding death, hate, extremism and a hellish storm of blowback through its actions in Somalia. You might not give a damn that this evil is being wrought in your name, but I do.
I applaud Chris Floyd for his persistence in paying attention to Somalia even though his readers have made it painfully obvious that they don't give a fig. But I still want to know: what combination of factors allows them not to care, or prevents them from caring?

Perhaps there's a question about whether these war crimes are really being committed in our names? Jennifer Deskal, the human rights advocate whose piece in Salon Chris Floyd quoted at length, writes:
Almost everyone I spoke with assumed -- whether true or not -- that the United States backed the arbitrary arrest and unlawful rendition of men like Ishmael and the still-detained Kenyans. Almost everyone assumed that the Ethiopians operate with America's blessing.
To which Floyd remarks:
They "assume" these things, of course, because they are true.
And Deskal continues:
Their stories have circulated, fueling anger and resentment. As one man, whose childhood friend became one of the rendition victims, told me, "Now when I go to the mosque, I pray to God to punish the Americans."

To be sure, the United States is not the main culprit when the Kenyans unlawfully render suspects or the Ethiopians torture them. But when U.S. officials interrogate rendition victims who are being held incommunicado, the United States becomes complicit in the abuse. The U.S. is funding the Ethiopian military, supporting its activities in Somalia and training Kenyan security forces in counterterrorism -- so as U.S.-backed military and police forces in the region brutalize their domestic opponents in the name of fighting terrorism, the United States is often blamed.

The United States could change those perceptions by demanding higher standards of its foreign partners and cutting off aid to abusers. It otherwise risks fueling the very problem -- anti-American militancy -- that it seeks to solve. For starters, the U.S. could demand the release or fair trial of any rendition victims still stuck in Ethiopian custody.
Chris Floyd again:
Daskal's story is marred by the same timidity which groups like Human Rights Watch (where she serves as senior counterrorism counsel) generally display when discussing American direction of and complicity in war crimes. These references are often couched in terms of "a perception" (or even misperceptions!) of American intentions. The latter are always given the benefit of doubt and qualification. Still, it requires little reading between the lines to see the confirmation of what every honest observer of the conflict can see: the Terror War operation is creating more of the violent extremism that it purports to combat.
...
In my opinion, Chris Floyd lets Jennifer Deskal off lightly for ridiculous spin and obvious distortion -- as well as some remarkably timid audacity! (or should I say audacious timidity?)

The notion that the USA is only complicit if its officials participate in the interrogation of rendition victims is bizarre and incomprehensible -- except as another part of the official deception. Welcome to the nightmare, where even defenders of human rights cut unrepentant torturers as much slack as possible.

Another bizarre and incomprehensible notion also comes to mind: perhaps most Americas are determined to know as little as possible about the war crime in Somalia because that's the only way their lives can make sense!

The war crimes against Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Iran and the Home Front all have some "justifying" pretext, or several. Even though all the stories are false, they're there, part of the national crazy-quilt: all the obvious, transparent, politically viable lies about 9/11; campfire tales about Saddam Hussein and his non-existent WMD; the endless not-really hunt for Osama bin Laden; nuclear weapons that don't exist yet but are already an existential threat to Israel; and a nation crawling with FBI entrapment victims if not actually real terrorists.

But we don't have any story about Somalia.

We don't have a mythically famous villain.

We don't have any ruins we can point to while saying, "You see this? The Somalis did this!"

In other words, there is no reason -- not even a transparently false reason -- for the war crime against Somalia.

And yet there's no opposition to it, from either party. And this combination of facts, in my opinion, makes the story intolerable to almost everybody.

There's no way to cloak ourselves in denial this time, no fig leaf to hide behind. Somalia reveals all too clearly the real motives behind the Terror War, and they are not what we have been told -- by Democrats or Republicans.

Somalia also reveals some crucial aspects of the Terror War on the Home Front. Among them: America's bipartisan leadership has no qualms about attacking foreigners who pose no threat to us, even without a plausible pretext, if they think they can get away with it.

When you add in all the other reasons -- from the blackness of the victims to the gruesomeness of the stories -- you get a tangled mess of horror that is so ugly, only the most courageous among us can stand to look at it.

Chris Floyd has enough courage to do it. But most of his readers do not. And that's one of the reasons why I am becoming increasingly convinced that we are more screwed now than ever before.

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Offline Biggs

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Re: Situation worsens in Somalia, insurgents now control much of south
« Reply #8 on: October 08, 2008, 06:12:27 PM »
Al-Shabab kills 14 Somali soldiers
Wed, 08 Oct 2008 16:54:35 GMT

 http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=71630&sectionid=351020501



Al-Shabab fighters have killed at least fourteen Somali soldiers in an attack on a military checkpoint south of the capital, Mogadishu.

Heavily armed fighters from the military wing of the Union of the Islamic Courts (UIC), al-Shabab, attacked and took control of Sarkuusta checkpoint near an Ethiopian base in southern Mogadishu, Press TV's Somali correspondent reported Wednesday.

They left the checkpoint after firing several mortars 19 of which landed on a nearby Ethiopian base.

Ethiopian soldiers flocked to the scene and went on a shooting spree, killing three civilians.

Also on Wednesday, two Somali soldiers were killed by unknown gunmen in a Mogadishu teashop. Four civilians were also injured in the violence.
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Offline Biggs

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Re: Situation worsens in Somalia, insurgents now control much of south
« Reply #9 on: October 12, 2008, 06:29:22 PM »
With Spotlight on Pirates, Somalis on Land Waste Away in the Shadows

By JEFFREY GETTLEMAN

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article20990.htm

11/10/08 "New York Times" -- AFGOOYE, Somalia
— Just step into a feeding center here, and the sense of hopelessness is overwhelming.

Dozens of women sit with listless babies in their laps, snapping their fingers, trying to get a flicker of life out of their dying children.

Little eyes close. Wizened 1-year-olds struggle to breathe. This is the place where help is supposed to be on its way. But the nurses in the filthy smocks are besieged. From the doorway, you can see the future of Somalia fading away.

 

While the audacity of a band of Somali pirates who hijacked a ship full of weapons has grabbed the world’s attention, it is the slow-burn suffering of millions of Somalis that seems to go almost unnoticed.

The suffering is not new. Or especially surprising. This country on the edge of Africa has been slowly, but inexorably, sliding toward an abyss for the past year and a half — or, some would argue, for the past 17. United Nations officials have called Somalia “the forgotten crisis.”

The causes are unemployment, drought, inflation, a squeeze on global food supplies and a war that will not end. Fighting between Somalia’s weak transitional government and a determined Islamist insurgency has been heating up in the past few weeks, driving thousands from their homes and cutting people off from food. The hospital wards here are one indicator of the conflict’s intensity.

“In the past two months,” said Muhammad Hussein, a doctor at a feeding center in Afgooye, “our patients have doubled.”

In August, 200 women with emaciated babies lined up outside his clinic every day. Today, there are 400.

More than three million people, about half Somalia’s population, need emergency rations to survive. Nobody seems to like it. Many say they feel humiliated.

“That’s all we talk about: when will the next handout come,” said Zenab Ali Osman, a grandmother raising her daughter’s children.

Before fighting drove her from Mogadishu, the capital, to Afgooye’s endless refugee camps of gumdrop-shaped huts made of plastic bags and in some cases soiled T-shirts, Ms. Zenab used to wash clothes for a living. On a good day, she made the equivalent of 80 cents.

The civil war has eviscerated the economy, leaving so many people to survive on pennies. But out on the high seas, it is a different story. Pirates thrive off this same lawlessness, making millions of dollars by hijacking ships in Somalia’s unpatrolled waters and demanding hefty ransoms to free them. On Sept. 25, a band of pirates seized a Ukrainian freighter full of tanks and other weapons bound for Kenya.

The pirates are asking for $20 million, an unfathomable amount here. Negotiations are still going on, and the price will probably be closer to $5 million. No one wants to pay the pirates, but in this case, with 20 crew members being held hostage on a ship full of explosives, giving in may be the safest way out.

But the pirates may be growing impatient. According to The Associated Press, they threatened Friday night to blow up the ship if they were not paid the money within three days.

“I pray to God they are caught,” said Dhuho Abdi Omar, a mother who was waiting at a feeding center in Afgooye with her 2-year-old girl, who had not eaten for two weeks. “These pirates are blocking our food.”

Not everyone agreed. Many young men in the camps seemed to lionize the gunmen of the seas.

“They’re tough guys,” said Muhammad Warsame, 22. “And they’re protecting our coast.”

The pirates have made the same argument, saying they hijack ships in response to illegal fishing and dumping.

“They’re our marines,” said Jaemali Argaga, a militia leader.

Somalia has not had any marines, or national army or navy of any significance, since the central government imploded in 1991. Clan-based warlords carved the country into fiefs, preying upon the population. People eventually got fed up, and in the summer of 2006, a grass-roots Islamist movement drove away the warlords.

Ethiopia and the United States accused the Islamists of sheltering terrorists, and in the winter of 2006, Ethiopian and American forces ousted the Islamists. But the Islamists are back. Supported by businessmen and war profiteers, Islamist guerrilla fighters are viciously battling the weak government forces and Ethiopian soldiers. Civilians are often caught in between. Thousands have been killed in the past year and a half.

Many aid workers have fled. The United Nations World Food Program is one of the last organizations with a large staff inside Somalia. Denise Brown, the deputy country director, said the environment was increasingly hostile. And desperate.

Thousands of hungry people besieged a convoy of 35 United Nations-chartered food trucks moving through Mogadishu two weeks ago. They stripped the trucks clean, looting more than two million pounds of food.

“It’s unprecedented,” Ms. Brown said “Things just went haywire.”

That has taken food out of the mouths of people like Ms. Zenab, whose daughter was one of the 20 street sweepers in Mogadishu killed by a bomb in August that was buried in a pile of garbage.

She is now helping raise several grandchildren. Amina, 13 months old, will not eat. The two sat the other day on a cot covered with flies. All around them were babies looking up at the ceiling with round wet eyes, some with faces covered in tape because they were too sick to swallow and were being fed milk through their noses.

Whom does she blame?

“Those with guns,” Ms. Zenab said. “Whoever they are.”

 

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company

 

Click here to help these children - http://www.savethechildren.org.uk/en/947.htm
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Offline Biggs

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Re: Situation worsens in Somalia, insurgents now control much of south
« Reply #10 on: October 14, 2008, 06:20:43 AM »
Troop pull-out leaves government on brink
Ethiopian withdrawal marks end of disastrous intervention that sparked new violence and suffering
From Steve Bloomfield in Nairobi

http://www.sundayherald.com/international/shinternational/display.var.2459722.0.troop_pullout_leaves_government_on_brink.php

SOMALIA'S FRAGILE
government appears to be on the brink of collapse. Islamist insurgents now controls large parts of southern and central Somalia - and are continuing to launch attacks inside the capital, Mogadishu.

Ethiopia, which launched a US-backed military intervention in Somalia in December 2006 in an effort to drive out an Islamist authority in Mogadishu, is now pulling out its troops.

Diplomats and analysts in neighbouring Nairobi believe the government will fall once Ethiopia completes its withdrawal, and secret plans have been made to evacuate government ministers to neighbouring Kenya.

That may happen sooner rather than later. A shipment of Ethiopian weapons, including tanks, left Mogadishu port last month as part of the withdrawal. Bringing the equipment back to Ethiopia by land would have been impossible - analysts believe Ethiopian troops and their Somali government allies control just three small areas in Mogadishu and a few streets in Baidoa, the seat of parliament. There are now estimated to be just 2500 Ethiopian soldiers left inside Somalia, down from 15,000-18,000 at the height of the war.

Somalia's overlapping conflicts go back, at the very least, to 1991, the year the country's last recognised government was overthrown. Men and women who were children then have since given birth to a second generation of Somalis who have known only war.

But analysts believe Somalia is now in the midst of its worst ever crisis. The ongoing conflict, which has claimed the lives of at least 9000 civilians and forced more than 1.1 million to flee their homes, has combined with devastating droughts and rocketing food prices to create one of the world's worst humanitarian catastrophes.

Almost half the population - 3.2m people - are in need of emergency aid (the figure has almost doubled in the last 12 months). One in six children is thought to be malnourished.

"This crisis is broadening as well as deepening," said Mark Bowden, the head of the UN's humanitarian effort. "It is now the world's most complicated crisis."

Violence and insecurity have made it almost impossible for aid to get through, and 24 aid workers have been killed in Somalia so far this year. A recent shipment of food aid needed a military escort to navigate Somalia's pirate-infested waters. But within hours of the food being unloaded in Mogadishu's port most of it was stolen by gun-toting gangs.

Oxfam, Save The Children and 50 other aid agencies working in Somalia last week said the international community had "completely failed Somali civilians".

As the crisis worsens thousands are trying to leave the country every week. Around 6000 people are now crossing the border into Kenya every month - despite the Kenyan government's decision to close the border. Some are arriving at the overcrowded Dadaab refugee camp in eastern Kenya, which is now one of the largest refugee camps in the world with nearly 250,000 people.

Others try to leave by sea, travelling to the northern town of Bosasso and paying $100 to people smugglers who ram more than 100 people onto a small fishing boat and set sail for Yemen.

Many do not make it. Smugglers last week forced 150 people off the boat three miles off the Yemeni coast. Only 47 made it to shore.

Attempts to find a political solution have stalled. The UN claims progress has been made, citing an agreement signed in neighbouring Djibouti by the Somali government and the opposition Alliance for the Reliberation of Somalia (ARS).

But the deal has been signed only by the moderates on each side: Prime Minister Nur Adde and the ARS's Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed.

President Abdullahi Yusuf, a former warlord who controls the government's security forces, has refused to get involved. Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, the hardline Islamic leader of another faction of the ARS, has denounced the deal, as have the leaders of the insurgents, a group called Al Shabaab.

Since the deal was struck in June, the level of violence has increased.

Few Somalis will weep if the government falls. In most respects it is a government in name only. Few ministries have offices, let alone civil servants to fill them. There are no real policies - and no real way to implement any.

Worst of all, this government, which is backed by the United Nations and funded by Western donors including Britain and the EU, has been accused of committing a litany of war crimes. Its police force, many of whom were trained under a UN programme part-funded by Britain, has carried out extrajudicial killings, raped women and fired indiscriminately on crowds at markets. Militias aligned to the government have killed journalists and attacked aid workers.

The government's fall would mark the end of a disastrous US-backed intervention. For six months in 2006, Somalia was relatively calm. A semblance of peace and security had returned to Mogadishu. The reason was the rise of the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC), a loose coalition of Islamist leaders who had driven out Mogadishu's warlords.

Hardline elements within the UIC vowed to launch a jihad against Somalia's traditional enemy, Ethiopia. The US viewed the UIC has an "al-Qaeda cell" - a belief not shared by the majority of analysts and diplomats.

Ethiopia, with the support of the US, sent thousands of troops across the border to drive out the UIC. It took just a few days to defeat them. Their leaders fled towards the border with Kenya, while many of the fighters took off their uniforms and melted into Mogadishu.

Within weeks, an Iraq-style insurgency had begun, targeting Somali government and Ethiopian troops. Al Shabaab began laying roadside bombs and firing at Ethiopian troops from inside civilian areas.

The Ethiopians responded by bombarding residential areas. Hundreds were killed and hundreds of thousands fled Mogadishu. Human rights groups accused Ethiopia of committing war crimes.

The US must now be wondering whether it was all worth it. Western backing for the unpopular Somali government and US support for the Ethiopian intervention has created a groundswell of anti-West sentiment in Somalia.

The Islamist leaders they were so keen to oust are the same ones they are now engaged in negotiations with. US officials have met both Sheikh Sharif and the more hardline Sheikh Aweys in an effort to find a peace deal.

Meanwhile, in Somalia, the Islamists taking control of towns and villages across the country are considered far more extremist than Aweys. "They are real international jihadis," said one Nairobi-based diplomat. "The Americans' fear of al-Qaeda in Somalia is becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy."
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Offline Biggs

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Re: Situation worsens in Somalia, insurgents now control much of south
« Reply #11 on: October 16, 2008, 02:09:25 PM »
Heavy gunfire near Somali airport
 
Civilians have fled the fighting in Mogadishu in huge numbers

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/7673605.stm


Heavy fighting has broken out on the road to the airport in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, near where African Union (AU) peacekeepers are based.

A witness told the BBC there were also clashes near the strategic K-4 junction and that mortars were being used.

At least five people, including two soldiers, have been killed, residents and doctors say.

Insurgents have targeted the airport in recent weeks as they battle government troops and their Ethiopian allies.

They have labelled it as a tool of Ethiopia's "occupation" of Somalia and forced it to close for several days last month by threatening to stop flights.

The AU peacekeeping force has also been increasingly targeted.

The K-4 junction is strategically placed in the south of the city linking the airport and the presidential palace, where AU peacekeepers are also based.

The witness said he could see houses on fire, and heavy gunfire could be heard in the background.

 

Somalia has been without a functioning government since President Mohamed Siad Barre was ousted in 1991.

Ethiopian troops helped the government push Islamist forces from control of central and southern Somalia in late 2006, triggering an insurgency.

'Threat'

On Thursday, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said Ethiopia would review its position in the coming months, but would stay longer if Somali politicians showed "readiness for peace".

Even if Ethiopian troops left, he said, they could still return if the powerful Islamist militia al-Shabab threatened to take power.

"Whenever there's a threat posed, we will come back to break their backs," he said.

"Any government is preferable to the Shabab. It's in the interest of Ethiopia and the Somali people to prevent them from coming to power."

More than three million people - almost half of Somalia's population - need food aid, according to the UN.

Aid agencies recently estimated that 1.1 million people had been uprooted from Mogadishu over the last nine months.

Last weekend, Burundi deployed more than 800 peacekeepers to Somalia, boosting the strength of the AU force to just over 3,000.

But the mission, which is made up of troops from Uganda and Burundi, remains well below the force of 8,000 that the AU originally said it would deploy.

Mr Meles said Ethiopian troops would remain in Somalia "at least until the African peace force is fully deployed."
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TheGoodFight1984

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Re: Situation worsens in Somalia, insurgents now control much of south
« Reply #12 on: October 16, 2008, 02:12:16 PM »
This place is the new target for the GWOT. posted a nes article about the plans for this in news tips a couple days back if anyone wants a read.

Offline Biggs

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Re: Situation worsens in Somalia, insurgents now control much of south
« Reply #13 on: October 17, 2008, 02:00:32 PM »
Fighting In Somalia's Mogadishu Kills 23

LINK HERE

MOGADISHU, Somalia (AFP)-
-At least 23 people were killed in the Somali capital Mogadishu when insurgents attacked camps housing African Union and Ethiopian troops Thursday, triggering heavy clashes, witnesses and police said.

The Islamist insurgents shelled bases housing A.U. peacekeepers and Ethiopian troops in southern Mogadishu's K4, Shirkole and Hamarjadid quarters, drawing retaliatory fire. Somali forces joined the battle to support the peacekeepers, they said. Witnesses said several residents were also wounded.

"I saw four civilians, one of them a woman, and an insurgent fighter killed in Taleh area. The civilians were caught in the crossfire," said witness Hasan Yahye.

Colonel Farah Abdullahi, a Somali policeman, said two officers were killed in the clash between A.U. troops and insurgents.

Sixteen other civilians died in fighting between Ethiopian troops and insurgents, bringing the death toll to 23.

"Four civilians died and three others wounded when an artillery shell hit their house near a vegetable market in Bakara," Osmail Adan, a witness, told AFP.

Another witness Ali Mohamed Siyad reported five fatalities in a Bakara tea shop.

"I was drinking tea when a mortar struck, killing five people. There was smoke and shrapnel all over the tea shop. I was very lucky not to die but I sustained small injuries," Siyad said.

A family of three was killed when a mortar crashed into their house.

"My father and my two sisters were killed by a mortar shell and their bodies are still lying in the house. I don't know what to say, its dark moment," said Shafici Ahmed.

A man and woman were killed when a shell crashed into a telephone booth in Bakara.

"It was terrible, I saw my friend die as a result of serious injuries caused by a mortar shell that destroyed his telephone booth. A woman also died after shrapnel cut her to pieces," said Ali Osman, a witness.

Witness Sirad Nur Roble said two other civilians were killed elsewhere in Bakara, one of the most volatile zones in the battle-wracked seaside capital.

Witnesses said the shells destroyed residential and business premises in Mogadishu, where hundreds of thousands of residents have fled the bloody duels for dominance in the recent months.

The A.U. force in Somalia, AMISOM, has been in Mogadishu since March 2007 and currently numbers around 3,400 troops, from Uganda and Burundi.

The figure is far below the 8,000 peacekeepers the A.U. pledged to deploy in Somalia to bolster the country's weak government and protect humanitarian operations.

Aid groups have scaled down operations in Somalia because of growing insecurity largely blamed on Islamist militants who have waged a guerrilla war since they were ousted last year by a joint Somali-Ethiopian offensive.

Somalia has been without an effective government since the 1991 ousting of president Mohamed Siad Barre touched off bloodletting that has defied numerous bids to restore stability.
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Offline Biggs

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Re: Situation worsens in Somalia, insurgents now control much of south
« Reply #14 on: November 13, 2008, 08:24:00 AM »
Somali fighters seize port town

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/africa/2008/11/20081112111850237733.html

The Shebab is the armed wing of the Islamic Courts' Union which in 2006 seized most of Somalia [AFP]

Somalia's Shabab group has taken over the southern port of Marka, an important entry point for food aid.


The heavily armed fighters rolled into Marka, located 100km south of the capital Mogadishu, after pro-government forces fled.

The Shabab is the armed wing of the Islamic Courts' Union, which in 2006 seized most of the country before being ousted by an Ethiopian military intervention.

"It seems that they are gaining control now and we did not have much power to defend the town," Hussein Yusuf Maalim, a member of the pro-government militia that ruled the town, said on Wednesday.

"Our commander ordered all the forces to leave the town in order to avoid any gunfight."

Marka is an entry point for the food aid urgently needed by more than a third of Somalia's population.
   
World Food Programme (WFP) shipments, already hampered by rampant piracy in Somali waters, generally enter the country either by Marka or by Mogadishu.

Mohamed Sheikh Nur, a journalist in Mogadishu, told Al Jazeera: "The Somali government has repeatedly been saying that it will protect the entire area soon, but that is not something feasible right now.

"This is because government and foreign troops are bogged down in Mogadishu and have no power outside of these areas."

Significant gains
   
Shabab fighters have made significant military gains in recent months, leaving the UN-backed transitional federal government in control of only some parts of Mogadishu and Baidoa, the seat of parliament.   
   


The fighters have broken away from the Islamic Courts, with the group's political leadership fleeing into exile and the Shabab engaging in a guerrilla war that has left thousands of civilians dead.
   
On Tuesday, the Shabab seized Qoryoley, a town just over 100km southwest of Mogadishu.   

African Union peacekeepers are stationed in Mogadishu, but violence goes on almost daily.
   
Humanitarian workers have frequently been targeted by armed groups in recent months, with several killed and others kidnapped.
   
Strict Sharia
   
In August, an alliance of Shabab fighters and forces loyal to Hassan Turki, a Muslim leader blacklisted as a "terrorist" by the US, seized control of Kismayo, one of the country's largest cities and its main southern port.
   
They have since tried to enforce the Sharia (Islamic law) akin to that which prevailed when the Islamic Courts ruled much of the country.
   
When in power in 2006, the Islamic Courts carried out executions, shut down cinemas and photo shops, banned live music, flogged drug offenders and harassed civilians, mainly women, for failing to wear appropriate dress in public.
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Offline Biggs

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Re: Situation worsens in Somalia, insurgents now control much of south
« Reply #15 on: November 21, 2008, 11:32:15 AM »
Fierce gun battle rocks Mogadishu
 
Islamists again control much of Somalia

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/7741212.stm


At least 15 people have been killed after insurgents attacked the Somali capital, Mogadishu, witnesses say.

Heavily armed men were repulsed after they attacked the house of district commissioner Ahmed Da'i just after dawn prayers, resident Ahmed Mumin said.

Mr Da'i confirmed the attack and said the bodies of the attackers "now littered the streets".

The raid comes on the day Ethiopian troops are due to start leaving Somalia, under a recent peace deal.

The BBC's Mohammed Olad Hassan in Mogadishu says there is no sign yet that the planned Ethiopian withdrawal from Mogadishu's residential areas has begun.
    They [bodies] were unfamiliar faces in the our district, so we think they were the insurgents
Dahir Mohamed
South Mogadishu resident


He says in contrast, they started patrolling in new areas of north-east Mogadishu, leading to clashes with residents and insurgents.

The pull-out is due to finish on 29 December, according to the UN-brokered deal between the government and some moderate Islamist groups.

The UN Security Council on Thursday unanimously passed a resolution imposing sanctions - an assets freeze and travel ban - on anyone threatening peace in Somalia.

"The prime goal of this is to provide a framework to stem the flow of arms into Somalia, which is causing such mayhem there," said John Sawers, the UN ambassador of the UK, which drafted the resolution.

The resolution also mentions anyone disrupting aid deliveries.

Mosque killing

Meanwhile, a gunman has killed one clan elder and wounded three others in an attack inside a mosque near the northern town of Hargeisa.

Hargeisa is the capital of the self-declared republic of Somaliland, which has been spared much of the violence of the rest of the country.

Government officials say there were two hours of fighting between insurgents and security officials in south Mogadishu.

The bodies of at least 15 of those killed were displayed by the authorities.

"They were unfamiliar faces in the our district, so we think they were the insurgents," said resident Dahir Mohamed.

The Islamists have not commented on the incident.

Ethiopia sent troops into Somalia two years to help the transitional government oust Islamists from Mogadishu and surrounding areas.

But President Abdullahi Yusuf last week admitted that Islamists now control most of the southern part of the country.
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Offline ConcordeWarrior

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Re: Situation worsens in Somalia, insurgents now control much of south
« Reply #16 on: November 21, 2008, 11:35:51 AM »
Hey, I hope the pirates will not seize H.M. the QE2.
She is about to exit the Suez Canal making her way down the Red Sea.
I will start worrying once Her Majesty LadyShip QE2 gets nearby Djibouti and Aden and nearby the Somali coast.
I hope there is a platoon on board armed to their teeth and some missiles passengers don't even know of.

I am going to Dubai to see her so I want her to be there... On time!  ;D
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Offline Biggs

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Re: Situation worsens in Somalia, insurgents now control much of south
« Reply #17 on: November 21, 2008, 11:47:46 AM »
Somali unrest continues to take toll

http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=75901&sectionid=351020501

At least 28 people, including civilians have been killed in clashes across Somalia, as violence continues to dominate the war-torn country.


In Gedo region, unknown gunmen opened heavy fire on the Bulo Hawa town administration headquarters where a group of elders were discussing ways of rescuing two Italian nuns kidnapped near the Kenya-Somalia borders.

The incident left seven people dead including five gunmen and two civilians. Two other civilians were also injured, Press TV correspondent in Somalia reported on Wednesday.

Also in South Mogadishu, heavy fighting broke out between Somali presidential guards and al-Shabaab forces, killing six soldiers and injuring nine others. Thirteen al-Shabaab fighters also lost their lives in the attack, Press TV reported government sources as saying.

Meanwhile scholars in Bay region, southwestern Somalia, welcomed the new administration established in the Lower Shabelle region by the Union of Islamic courts (UIC).

The Islamic Courts have so far taken control of most parts of Somalia, including Lower Shabelle region and they are now focusing on capturing the capital, Mogadishu.

UIC's advance on Mogadishu in recent days has raised the stakes in an insurgency that is the latest manifestation of 17 years of civil conflict in Somalia since warlords toppled a dictator in 1991.

FF/RA
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Re: Situation worsens in Somalia, insurgents now control much of south
« Reply #18 on: November 21, 2008, 11:52:49 AM »
Islamists' resurgence in Somalia deals setback to U.S. terror fight
By SHASHANK BENGALI
McClatchy Newspapers

http://www.kansascity.com/451/story/898656.html


Al-Shabaab, a radical Islamist group that U.S. officials say is tied to al-Qaida, has methodically seized much of southern Somalia and is poised to take the capital, Mogadishu, as the country's internationally backed government nears collapse.

The rise of al-Shabaab - from the Arabic word for "youth" - in many ways represents the very scenario that the Bush administration sought to avoid two years ago, when it quietly backed an invasion by Somalia's neighbor, Ethiopia, to drive a federation of hard-line Islamic courts out of Mogadishu.

The invasion aimed to forestall a Taliban-style regime that could have become an East African haven for jihadists. But diplomats, regional analysts and former al-Shabaab fighters say that it's fueled a diverse Islamist insurgency that's now stronger and more sophisticated than ever, and seems bent on retaking control of the country.

American officials "are fearful" of a return to hardline Islamist rule in Somalia, according to one official who wasn't authorized to discuss the subject publicly. "There's no question that (the insurgency) is more violent than it has been in recent history, and we are extremely concerned about that," the U.S. official said.

Of several insurgent factions claiming territory in southern Somalia, the most powerful is unquestionably al-Shabaab, whose leaders claim allegiance to Osama bin Laden and rule based on a strict form of sharia, or Islamic law.

In recent months, their forces have been bolstered by the arrival of foreign-trained jihadists and by ready supplies of cash, weapons and mercenaries flowing easily through one of the most lawless and impoverished regions of Africa.

The group has recruited perhaps hundreds of fighters from across the permeable border in Kenya, paying young, jobless Muslim men upward of $100 a month and promising large sums to the families of martyrs, say Kenyan ex-militants.

They're also joined by a small but influential number of jihadists from Arab countries who train the mostly young and inexperienced Somali fighters in suicide bombing and other tactics, the fighters say.

Despite nearly two decades of chaos and militia rule, foreign fighters are a new phenomenon in Somalia and a sign that al-Shabaab is "becoming more dangerous," said Richard Barno of the Institute for Security Studies, a South Africa-based think tank. Analysts credit al-Shabaab's foreign wing with plotting five coordinated car bombings in northern Somalia last month that killed at least 31 people - the worst terrorist strike in the country in recent memory.

Analysts say it's unclear if al-Shabaab's links to al-Qaida are operational or mere bluster, but CIA director Michael Hayden last week identified Somalia as a region where al-Qaida was forming new partnerships. In March, the State Department designated al-Shabaab as a terrorist organization that included "a number of individuals affiliated with al Qaida" and that "many of its senior leaders . . . trained and fought with al Qaida in Afghanistan."

U.S. officials accuse the group of sheltering suspects in the 1998 attacks on U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, which killed more than 220 people. The Pentagon has launched several airstrikes inside Somalia against suspected terrorists, including Aden Hashi Ayro, a top al-Shabaab commander and reputed al-Qaida operative, who was killed in a U.S. strike in May.

In backing the Ethiopian invasion two years ago, Bush administration officials made similar allegations about leaders of the Islamic courts, including Hassan Dahir Aweys, a hardliner who commands a militia from his base in neighboring Eritrea. But in a sign of a softer approach this time around, the U.S. official said that American envoys had met with allies of Aweys in recent months.
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Re: Situation worsens in Somalia, insurgents now control much of south
« Reply #19 on: November 23, 2008, 10:03:22 AM »
17 Killed In Mogadishu Fighting

[img=http://www.nasdaq.com/aspxcontent/NewsStory.aspx?cpath=20081121%5CACQRTT200811211121RTTRADERUSEQUITY_0618.htm&selected=9999&selecteddisplaysymbol=9999&StoryTargetFrame=_top&mkt=WORLD&chk=unchecked&lang=&link=&headlinereturnpage=http://www.international.nasd]http://LINK CLICK HERE[/img]

(RTTNews) -
At least 17 people were killed after the government troops repelled an insurgent attack on the house of district commissioner in the Somali capital of Mogadishu on Friday, said officials and witnesses.

Officials said that the fighting broke out after Islamist insurgents attacked the house of district commissioner Ahmed Da'I on Friday morning. They added that some 15 insurgents and two government soldiers were killed in the fighting.

Witnesses and local officials said that the clashes between the insurgents and the government troops lasted for almost two hours and added that six soldiers were wounded in the fighting.

Somalia has not had a functioning government after the fall of the last government in 1991. Recently, the violence escalated after the country's weak transitional government ousted the Islamists from Mogadishu with Ethiopian help in December 2006.

In October, the interim government of Somalia and the opposition Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia (ARS) had signed a UN-brokered peace deal aimed at ending 17 years of anarchy in the troubled Horn of Africa country.

The deal was signed in neighboring Djibouti and it requires the withdrawal of Ethiopian troops from strategic areas in Mogadishu and the central town of Beledweyne from 21 November 2008 onwards, leaving them under the control of African Union troops in Somalia (AMISOM).

However, several Somali Islamist militant groups, including the powerful Al-Shabaab group, rejected the deal, saying that that they will negotiate with the country's transitional government only after the Ethiopian army, which was called in to support the government in late 2006, leaves Somalia.
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Offline Biggs

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Re: Situation worsens in Somalia, insurgents now control much of south
« Reply #20 on: November 23, 2008, 10:05:02 AM »
SCENARIOS-Is Somalia on the verge of an Islamist takeover?
Fri 21 Nov 2008, 9:16 GMT

By Andrew Cawthorne

http://africa.reuters.com/country/ET/news/usnLL429900.html

NAIROBI, Nov 21 (Reuters)
- Rampant piracy offshore and an advance by Islamist rebels on Mogadishu have put Somalia's long-running civil conflict in the global spotlight.

Here are some possible scenarios for the country.


ISLAMIST TAKEOVER?

* After a two-year insurgency, Islamist fighters are within nine miles (six km) of the capital and President Abdullahi Yusuf admits his Western-backed government is on the verge of collapse. The Islamists or aligned groups now control most of the south, except Mogadishu and the seat of parliament, Baidoa.

* The Islamists' momentum in recent months has led to some predictions of an imminent assault on the capital, where they launch regular guerrilla-style attacks on the government and its Ethiopian military allies.

* But the rebels are split. The most militant wing, al Shabaab, which is on Washington's terrorist list, is urging jihad, or holy war. Moderate elements in another faction, the Islamic Courts Union, are leaning towards talks. The umbrella opposition Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia (ARS) is divided into a pro-peace group known as ARS-Djibouti and a hardline wing ARS-Eritrea.

* Some analysts say the Islamists may be quietly satisfied with the current, Iraq-style situation of daily attacks in Mogadishu, drawing in African peacekeepers and keeping Somali-Ethiopian troops bogged down. The presence of several thousand Ethiopian troops -- who beat them militarily at the end of 2006 -- is a major deterrent to an assault on the city.

* Should the Islamists take the capital, hardline leaders say they will impose sharia law across the south. Washington fears that would make it a haven for al Qaeda-linked extremists, and neighbouring Ethiopia fears a push on its ethnically Somali regions. But some regional diplomats say the world should have nothing to fear from an Islamist-led Somalia, provided -- crucially -- al Shabaab and other militants are marginalised. The northern states of Somaliland and Puntland run their own affairs, with the former having declared itself independent.

* Islamist leaders have publicly vowed to stamp out piracy if they take over and cite their action against gangs when they ruled the south for half of 2006. But analysts say some factions, including Shabaab, are increasingly linked to piracy, using the gangs to bring arms from abroad and sharing spoils.


POWER-SHARING?

* After 14 attempts to re-establish effective central government in Somalia since warlords toppled a dictator in 1991, another one came along this year. The U.N. special envoy to Somalia, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, has been leading talks in Djibouti between the government and moderate Islamists.

* Both sides have signed a ceasefire in principle and an agreement to form a power-sharing government. But with hardline Islamists stepping up attacks every time the peace process moves a notch forward, it has had no impact in stemming violence on the ground. Further, Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein says Yusuf himself is opposed to the peace process. "The president is an obstacle, no doubt," he told Reuters this week, underlining rifts that are frustrating the government's foreign backers.

* East African nations and the wider international community are backing power-sharing as the best way to avoid the collapse of Yusuf's government while adapting to the reality of Islamist power on the ground.

* A regional summit in Nairobi at the end of October gave the Somali government a 15-day deadline for a cabinet reshuffle to bring in some moderate opponents. The deadline has expired.


FOREIGN INTERVENTION?

* Any talk of foreign intervention in Somalia is tinged with memories of disastrous U.N. and U.S. interventions in the early 1990s, perhaps most vividly illustrated by the "Black Hawk Down" battle in 1993 when 18 American troops were killed.

* The African Union (AU) has a 3,000-strong peacekeeping force of Ugandans and Burundians, but they have been unable to do much more than guard a few key installations like the presidential palace and airport. Both of those have been hit by insurgents, however, and AU troops themselves are targets too.

* The AU is struggling to increase the force to an intended 8,000, though Nigeria and others are talking of soon sending reinforcements. The pan-African body's preferred option, however, is to hand over to the United Nations.

* The U.N. Security Council appears to have no political appetite for another major intervention in Africa -- at a time when it is facing criticism over failing to keep the peace in Congo and Darfur -- but has begun contingency planning in case.

* By contrast, foreign nations have swung into quick action to try to contain piracy which has reached unprecedented levels this year in the nearby Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean waters.

* The NATO alliance and the European Union (EU) have sent ships, while the United States, France, Russia, India and others have all stepped up patrols in the area. As if mocking their efforts, pirates took a Saudi supertanker off Kenya last weekend in their biggest and geographically furthest strike yet.

* Ethiopia has been quietly withdrawing soldiers it sent in 2006 to back the government. But it still has several thousand there and is viewed as unlikely to pull them all out for fear of an al Shabaab assault on Mogadishu.


CHAOS AS NORMAL?

* In the absence of any major shift in Somali politics, the current quagmire would simply continue.

* Fighting has killed 10,000 civilians since early 2007 and more would undoubtedly be caught up in daily clashes. More than 1 million are internal refugees, and that number would grow.

* Foreign fighters may continue to be attracted to "Africa's Iraq" which militants present as a war against infidel invaders.
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Re: Situation worsens in Somalia, insurgents now control much of south
« Reply #21 on: November 23, 2008, 10:08:01 AM »
SOMALIA ISLAMIST INSURGENTS VOW TO CRUSH PIRATES AND STORM PORT IN HUNT FOR PIRATE GANGS

http://www.gulf-times.com/site/topics/article.asp?cu_no=2&item_no=256009&version=1&template_id=39&parent_id=21

MOGADISHU:
Dozens of Somali Islamist insurgents stormed a port yesterday hunting the pirates behind the seizure of a Saudi supertanker that was the world’s biggest hijack, a local elder said.
Separately, police in the capital Mogadishu said they had ambushed and shot dead 17 militants, in the latest illustration of the chaos in the Horn of Africa country that has fuelled a dramatic surge in piracy.

The Sirius Star — a Saudi vessel with a $100mn oil cargo and 25-man crew from the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Croatia, Poland and Britain — is believed anchored offshore near Haradheere, about half-way up Somalia’s long coastline.
“Saudi Arabia is a Muslim country and hijacking its ship is a bigger crime than other ships,” Sheikh Abdirahim Isse Adow, an Islamist spokesman, said. “Haradheere is under our control and we shall do something about that ship.”
Both the US Navy and Dubai-based ship operator Vela International said they could not confirm a media report the hijackers were demanding a $25mn ransom. That would be the biggest demand to date by pirates who prey on boats in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean off Somalia.

A pirate identifying himself as Jamii Adam told the Saudi-owned Asharq al-Awsat newspaper that negotiations were taking place with the ship’s owners, saying the ransom demanded was not excessive but declining to give a figure.
He said it had cost the pirates $500,000 to seize the vessel. “We bore many costs to hijack it,” he said.
Iran’s biggest shipping firm said gunmen holding a Hong Kong-flagged ship carrying wheat and 25 crew members had set demands for its release, but it did not reveal what they were.

An upsurge of attacks this year has forced up shipping insurance costs, made some firms go round South Africa instead of via the Suez Canal, brought millions in ransom payments, and prompted an international naval response.
In Mogadishu, police said they laid in wait and shot dead 17 fighters from the militant al Shabaab insurgent group during an attempted attack on a senior official.

The Islamists have been fighting the government and its Ethiopian allies for about two years. They launch near-daily guerrilla strikes in the capital and control most of the south, including a town just 14km from Mogadishu.
Islamist leaders deny allegations they collude with pirates and insist they will stamp down on them if they win power, citing a crackdown when they ruled the south briefly in 2006.

Some analysts, however, say Islamist militants are benefiting from the spoils of piracy and arms shipments facilitated by the sea gangs. Analysts also accuse government figures of collaboration with pirates.
The elder in Haradheere port said the Islamists arrived wanting to find out immediately about the Sirius Star, which was captured last Saturday about 450 nautical miles off Kenya in the pirates’ furthest strike to date.
“The Islamists arrived searching for the pirates and the whereabouts of the Saudi ship,” said the elder, who declined to be named. “I saw four cars full of Islamists driving in the town from corner to corner. The Islamists say they will attack the pirates for hijacking a Muslim ship.”

In Mogadishu, al Shabaab gunmen drove to the home of the local Madina district chairman early in the morning, but found police officers lying in wait, witnesses said.
“We got information before they left their hideouts and we were able to surround them,” said a police spokesman. “Thirteen of the dead bodies lie in the street near the chairman’s house.”
Residents said the al Shabaab fighters wore black scarves round their heads.

Somalis are traditionally moderate Muslims, and analysts say al Shabaab — which Washington has listed as a foreign terrorist organisation with close links to Al Qaeda — does not have deep popular support, despite having the upper hand militarily.
Somalia has been without effective central government since the 1991 toppling of a military dictator by warlords.
The capture of the Sirius Star has caused panic around the world, with the rampant piracy threatening to become a further drag on trade at a time of global economic downturn.

Kenya’s Foreign Minister Moses Wetangula summoned foreign ambassadors in Nairobi to appeal for their countries to make all efforts to end the menace. “Act now and not tomorrow,” he said.
Somalia’s President Abdullahi Yusuf said in Nairobi that Somalis had only themselves to blame for their difficult circumstances.
“No one attacked us and forced us into this condition. It is as a result of our actions that we destroyed our nationhood ... The freedom and the unity of the Somali people is on the edge of falling,” Yusuf told reporters. — Reuters

 
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Re: Situation worsens in Somalia, insurgents now control much of south
« Reply #22 on: November 23, 2008, 12:49:58 PM »
Islamic Fighters Threaten Pirates

LINK HERE

12:42pm UK, Sunday November 23, 2008
Somali Islamist fighters have given pirates holding a Saudi oil tanker an ultimatum: free the ship or face the threat of an armed attack.


 

Shebab militants training near Mogadishu


Sheikh Ahmed, a spokesman for the Shebab group in the coastal region of Harardhere, told the AFP news agency: "If the pirates want peace, they had better release the tanker."

The Sirius Star, a tanker carrying around $100m worth of crude oil and owned by Saudi Aramco, was hijacked by Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean on November 15.

Pirates have since anchored it off their base in Harardhere and have demanded a ransom of $25m be paid by November 30.

The Shebab (meaning "youth") armed group controls much of southern and central Somalia, and has positioned fighters in and around Harardhere in recent days.

Islamist leaders have stressed that piracy is a capital offence in Islam and officially condemned the surge in acts of piracy in Somalia's waters.

 

Pirates on board the Sirius Star


A member of the pirate group holding the Sirius Star retorted that his own men were not afraid of the Shebab's threats.

Mohamed Said said: "We are the Shebab of the sea and we can't be scared by the Shebab of the land. If anybody attempts to attack, that would be suicide."

Mr Said reiterated that his group is demanding $25m to release the vessel, which is carrying the equivalent of almost a quarter of top producer Saudi Arabia's daily output.

Speaking to AFP by telephone he said: "I am not on the tanker at the moment because I am co-ordinating what is happening on the ground.

"There is a small Shebab vanguard on the ground but we also have a strong presence."

The pirate added: "Every Somali has great respect for the holy kingdom of Saudi Arabia. We have nothing against them but unfortunately what happened was just business for us and I hope the Saudis will understand."

Some residents in Harardhere have argued that the Shebab are divided over the issue of piracy and that some of the Islamist fighters have moved into the region only to claim a share of the ransom.

Authorities have played down the idea of attacking the ship on the grounds that it would be too dangerous and would probably result in the deaths of some or all of the hostage crew.
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Re: Situation worsens in Somalia, insurgents now control much of south
« Reply #23 on: November 29, 2008, 09:12:24 AM »
Ethiopia to pull troops out of Somalia

Yesterday, 10:44 am
 Tsegaye Tadesse

http://uk.news.yahoo.com/22/20081128/twl-uk-somalia-conflict-bd5ae06.html

Ethiopia said on Friday it would withdraw its troops from Somalia by the end of this year, piling pressure on Somalia's feuding government and African nations that had promised to send peacekeepers. Skip related content


Addis Ababa has sent thousands of soldiers to support Somalia's Western-backed interim administration, whose divisions have hindered its battle against Islamist militants waging an Iraq-style insurgency.

President Abdullahi Yusuf's government wants a fully-fledged United Nations peacekeeping force to replace a small African Union (AU) mission that has been unable to stem the violence.

"The Ethiopians are at the end of their tether because of the squabbling in the interim government, which they have backed at such enormous human and financial cost," Rashid Abdi, Somalia expert at the International Crisis Group, told Reuters.

He said Ethiopia was also angry at the West, which gave it tacit approval to deploy there, but then let it shoulder the burden of trying to stabilise Somalia, while also criticising human rights abuses by its soldiers there.

"I think they'll decide to pull out their forces, seal the border, then make the kind of incursions they made in the past to ensure the (Islamist rebels) do not become a serious threat."

A spokesman for Ethiopia's Foreign Ministry told Reuters that Addis Ababa had had informed U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Jean Ping, chairman of the AU Commission, by letter on Tuesday of its decision to withdraw its military forces.

Fighting in Somalia has killed 10,000 civilians since early 2007, driven more than a million from their homes and left more than 3 million Somalis in need of emergency food aid.

ISLAMIST ADVANCE

The Islamists, some of whom the United States accuses of having links to al Qaeda, control most of the south of the country and have been slowly advancing on the capital Mogadishu.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has repeatedly expressed his frustration at the failure of Somali government leaders to reconcile with each other, and with moderate members of the opposition, and this week he raised the stakes a notch.

Ethiopian troops have frequently clashed with the rebels, who control most of the south and launch near-daily attacks on government forces and AU peacekeepers in the capital Mogadishu.

Nearly two decades of chaos in the poor Horn of Africa country has created a breeding ground for kidnappings, banditry and rampant piracy in the busy shipping lanes offshore.

In the latest attack at sea, a regional maritime group said a Liberian-flagged chemical tanker, the Biscaglia, was hijacked in the Gulf of Aden early on Friday.

Andrew Mwangura, coordinator of the Mombasa-based East African Seafarers' Assistance Programme, said it had 30 crew on board -- 25 Indians, three Britons and two Bangladeshis.

"I understand some of the crew managed to escape but I have no confirmation of that," he told Reuters, adding that the ship was managed by Singapore-based Ishima Pte Ltd.

Somali pirates on November 15 seized a Saudi supertanker, the biggest ship ever hijacked. They are still holding it.
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Re: Situation worsens in Somalia, insurgents now control much of south
« Reply #24 on: December 02, 2008, 05:25:54 PM »
Somalia: Another CIA-Backed Coup Blows Up

By Mike Whitney

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article21375.htm

"The Ethiopian invasion, which was sanctioned by the US government, has destroyed virtually all the life-sustaining economic systems which the population has built for the last fifteen years." Abdi Samatar, professor of Global Studies at the University of Minnesota, Democracy Now

December 02, 2008 "Information Clearinghouse" --- Up until a month ago, no one in the Bush administration showed the least bit of interest in the incidents of piracy off the coast of Somalia. Now that's all changed and there's talk of sending in the Navy to patrol the waters off the Horn of Africa and clean up the pirates hideouts. Why the sudden about-face? Could it have something to do with the fact that the Ethiopian army is planning to withdrawal all of its troops from Mogadishu by the end of the year, thus, ending the failed two year US-backed occupation of Somalia?

The United States has lost the ground war in Somalia, but that doesn't mean its geopolitical objectives have changed one iota. The US intends to stay in the region for years to come and use its naval power to control the critical shipping lanes from the Gulf of Aden. The growing strength of the Somali national resistance is a set-back, but it doesn't change the basic game-plan. The pirates are actually a blessing in disguise. They provide an excuse for the administration to beef up it's military presence and put down roots. Every crisis is an opportunity.

There's an interesting subtext to the pirate story that hasn't appeared in the western media. According to Simon Assaf of the Socialist Worker:

"Many European, US and Asian shipping firms – notably Switzerland's Achair Partners and Italy's Progresso – signed dumping deals in the early 1990s with Somalia's politicians and militia leaders. This meant they could use the coast as a toxic dumping ground. This practice became widespread as the country descended into civil war.
Nick Nuttall of the UN Environment Programme said, "European companies found it was very cheap to get rid of the waste."

When the Asian tsunami of Christmas 2005 washed ashore on the east coast of Africa, it uncovered a great scandal. Tons of radioactive waste and toxic chemicals drifted onto the beaches after the giant wave dislodged them from the sea bed off Somalia. Tens of thousands of Somalis fell ill after coming into contact with this cocktail. They complained to the United Nations (UN), which began an investigation.

"There are reports from villagers of a wide range of medical problems such as mouth bleeds, abdominal hemorrhages, unusual skin disorders and breathing difficulties," the UN noted.

Some 300 people are believed to have died from the poisonous chemicals.

In 2006 Somali fishermen complained to the UN that foreign fishing fleets were using the breakdown of the state to plunder their fish stocks. These foreign fleets often recruited Somali militias to intimidate local fishermen. Despite repeated requests, the UN refused to act. Meanwhile the warships of global powers that patrol the strategically important Gulf of Aden did not sink or seize any vessels dumping toxic chemicals off the coast.

So angry Somalis, whose waters were being poisoned and whose livelihoods were threatened, took matters into their own hands. Fishermen began to arm themselves and attempted to act as unofficial coastguards." (Socialist Worker)

The origins of piracy in Somalia is considerably different than the narrative in the media which tends to perpetuate stereotypes of scary black men who are naturally inclined to criminal behavior. In reality, the pirates were the victims of a US-EU run system that still uses the developing world as a dumping ground for toxic waste regardless of the suffering it causes. (just ask Larry Summers) In fact, the dumping continues to this day, even though we have been assured that we're living in a "post racial era" following the election of Barak Obama. Unfortunately, that rule doesn't apply to the many black and brown people who still find themselves caught in the imperial crosshairs. Their lives are just as miserable as ever.

ETHIOPIA'S PLAN FOR WITHDRAWAL

In 2006, the Bush administration supported an alliance of Somali warlords known as the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) that established a base of operations in the western city of Baidoa. With the help of the Ethiopian army, western mercenaries, US Navy warships, and AC-130 gunships; the TFG captured Mogadishu and forced the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) to retreat to the south. Since then the resistance has coalesced into a tenacious guerrilla army that has recaptured most of the country.

The Bush administration invoked the war on terror to justify its involvement in Somalia, but their case was weak and full of inconsistencies. The ICU is not an Al Qaida affiliate or a terrorist organization despite the claims of the State Department. In fact, the ICU brought a high level of peace and stability to Somalia that hadn't been seen for more than sixteen years.

Political analyst James Petras summed it up like this:

“The ICU was a relatively honest administration, which ended warlord corruption and extortion. Personal safety and property were protected, ending arbitrary seizures and kidnappings by warlords and their armed thugs. The ICU is a broad multi-tendency movement that includes moderates and radical Islamists, civilian politicians and armed fighters, liberals and populists, electoralists and authoritarians. Most important, the Courts succeeded in unifying the country and creating some semblance of nationhood, overcoming clan fragmentation.”

The Bush administration is mainly interested in oil and geopolitics. According to most estimates 30 per cent of America's oil will come from Africa within the next ten years. That means the Pentagon will have to extend its tentacles across the continent. Washington's allies in the TFG promised to pass oil laws that would allow foreign oil companies to return to Somalia, but now all of that is uncertain. It is impossible to know what type of government will emerge from the present conflict. Many pundits expect Somalia to descend into terrorist-breeding, failed state for years to come.

The latest round of fighting has created a humanitarian disaster. 1.3 million people have been forced from their homes with nothing more than what they can carry on their backs. Over 3.5 million people are now huddled in tent cities in the south with little food, clean water or medical supplies.

According to the UN News Center: "Nearly half the population is in crisis or need of assistance....Continuing instability, coupled with drought, high food prices and the collapse of the local currency have only worsened the dire humanitarian situation in recent months. The UN estimates that 40 per cent of the population, are in need of assistance. In addition, one in six children under the age of five in southern and central Somalia is currently acutely malnourished." (UN News Center)

The war between the occupying Ethiopian army and the various guerrilla factions has steadily intensified over the last two years. Fighters from the ICU, Al-Shabaab and other Islamic groups have moved from the south to the vicinity of Mogadishu where fighting could break out at any time. It's "game-over" for Bush's proxy army and the transitional federal government. They cannot win, which is why the Ethiopian leaders announced a complete withdrawal of troops by the end of the year. By January 1, 2009, the occupation will be over.

In a recent Chicago Tribune article, "US Appears to be Losing in Somalia", journalist Paul Salopek sums it up like this:

"(Somalia) is a covert war in which the CIA has recruited gangs of unsavory warlords to hunt down and kidnap Islamic militants...and secretly imprison them offshore, aboard U.S. warships. The British civil-rights group Reprieve contended that as many as 17 U.S. warships may have doubled as floating prisons since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks...

"Somalia is one of the great unrecognized U.S. policy failures since 9/11," said Ken Menkhaus, a leading Somalia scholar at Davidson College in North Carolina. "By any rational metric, what we've ended up with there today is the opposite of what we wanted." (Paul Salopek, "US Appears to be Losing in Somalia" Chicago Tribune)

The CIA has done its job well. It's created a beehive for terrorism and the potential for another catastrophe like 9-11.

Currently, negotiations are underway between the guerrilla leaders and the TFG over a power-sharing agreement. But no one expects the talks will amount to anything. The moderate ICU may regain power but the country will still be ungovernable for years to come. At best, Somalia is a decade away from restoring the fragile peace that was in place before Bush's bloody intervention.
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Re: Situation worsens in Somalia, insurgents now control much of south
« Reply #25 on: December 07, 2008, 08:56:58 AM »
Ethiopian troops shell' Mogadishu

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/africa/2008/12/20081251257997188.html
Ethiopian forces are expected to leave Somalia
by the end of the year [AP]




At least 16 people have been killed and dozens injured from suspected shelling by Ethiopian troops in the north of Mogadishu, Somalia's capital, witnesses say.

Residents said they believed Friday's shelling had been aimed at a stronghold for anti-government fighters but instead fell on a crowded market.

Omar Mohamed, a Mogadishu resident, said: "A shell landed in the market killing five women and two men.

"We are shocked and collecting their scattered flesh. I could see 10 injured people."

Halima Bare, another resident, said two mortar shells killed four people and a baby in a restaurant and that she saw three more bodies at a bus stop.

Sheikh Abdirahim Isse Adow, the spokesman for the Islamic Courts Union (ICU),  said: "We have great sympathy for the innocent civilians who are being killed."

There was no immediate comment from the Ethiopians.

The ICU, a group which had taken control of large areas of the country in opposition to the interim government, was driven out of Mogadishu in 2006 when the government brought in Ethiopian forces to help them fight.

The ICU and several other anti-government groups and splinter groups still remain in the Horn of Africa nation.

Pressure and urgency

Anti-government fighters, who now control most of southern Somalia, mount daily attacks on the Western-backed government and its Ethiopian supporters.

Analysts say it will be hard for them to take control of Mogadishu while heavily armed Ethiopian forces remain stationed there.

Meanwhile, Ethiopia has said its troops will withdraw from the country by the end of 2008.

The announcement puts pressure on Somalia's interim government and adds urgency to its long-standing request for international peacekeepers.

Fighting in Somalia has killed 10,000 civilians since early 2007, driven more than a million from their homes and left more than three million Somalis in need of emergency food aid.
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Re: Situation worsens in Somalia, insurgents now control much of south
« Reply #26 on: December 07, 2008, 09:02:00 AM »
13 dead as insurgents seize Somalia town

By REUTERSPosted Saturday, December 6 2008 at 20:02

http://www.nation.co.ke/News/africa/-/1066/499184/-/147j04uz/-/index.html


The hardline Islamist insurgent group al Shabaab has taken control of a central Somali trading town after fighting that killed at least 13 people and wounded dozens of others, residents said on Saturday.

The capture of Gurael, 370 km (230 miles) north of the capital Mogadishu, adds to the growing hold al Shabaab has gained across south and central Somalia in a two-year insurgency against the government and its Ethiopian military allies.

Locals said al Shabaab, which means youth in Arabic, took Gurael after three days of fighting with a government-allied moderate Sunni Islamist group in the area.

The battle began after al Shabaab fighters arrested a local Koranic teacher of that group, they said.

“I have counted 10 dead men myself,” one local resident, Ali Aden, told Reuters by telephone from the area. “Six died yesterday and four were lying in the paths of the deserted town this morning. It is now under control of al Shabaab.”

Witnesses spoke of chaos in the area, with bullets being fired on vehicles full of fleeing residents. Three women were killed in one lorry, they said.

More than 5,000 Gurael residents had fled to the protection of nearby woods, a local human rights group said. Medical staff were overwhelmed.

“We received 15 injured people including civilians and fighters. And we hear many families fled with injuries to other towns,” said Ismail Ali, a nurse at Guarel hospital. Al Shabaab leaders could not be reached for comment.

Since the start of 2007, al Shabaab and other Islamist rebels have waged an Iraq-style insurgency of mortar attacks, roadside bombings and assassinations in Mogadishu, and been gradually taking towns across south-central Somalia.

They hold one town within just a few miles of Mogadishu.

With Ethiopia saying it will withdraw its troops from Somalia by the end of the year, and the Western-backed interim government remaining weak and split, some believe al Shabaab may be poised to take over Mogadishu soon.

It is hampered, however, by splits within the Islamist ranks, where some oppose al Shabaab’s militancy and support U.N.-brokered peace talks aimed at a power-sharing government.
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Re: Situation worsens in Somalia, insurgents now control much of south
« Reply #27 on: December 10, 2008, 09:31:40 AM »
Ethiopia sends more troops into Somalia

http://www.middle-east-online.com/english/?id=29138

Ethiopia redeploys troops across border into Somalia, reoccupies former military positions in Mogadishu.

 
MOGADISHU
- Ethiopia sent troops across the border into Somalia on Tuesday and reoccupied former military positions in Mogadishu, raising questions about its withdrawal plans, witnesses said.

Addis Ababa did not comment on the troop movements, which some residents saw as negating Ethiopia's pledge to pull out its troops by the end of the year, while others interpreted it as a tactical move to ensure a smooth withdrawal.

"The Ethiopians deployed a battalion of their troops in Somalia's border town of Kalabeyr in the central Hiran region," said Abdi Moalin Farah, a resident in the nearby town of Beledweyn.

"I don't know what they want," he said, adding that the troops had left their positions there only two weeks earlier.

Other witnesses in the region confirmed the redeployment.

In the capital Mogadishu, Ethiopian troops reoccupied part of the northern district of Yaqshiid, residents said.

"Three areas which were vacated by Ethiopian troops five days ago were reoccupied," said Abdullahe Mohamud, a local businessman. "Their actions show that Ethiopia is not sincere when it pledges to leave Somalia."

Ethiopia's foreign ministry announced late last month that it would pull its troops out of Somalia by year's end, wrapping up its ill-fated two-year occupation of the conflict-ridden country.

Ethiopia subsequently said it could delay its pullout "by a few days."

The Ethiopian army invaded Somalia in late 2006 to rescue Somalia's embattled transitional government and oust the Islamic Courts Union (ICU), which controlled of much of the country's central and southern regions.

The ICU had ruled much of Somalia with relative peace and prosperity until the Ethiopian involvement.

Since then, ICU fighters have waged a deadly insurgency against the Ethiopian and the transitional government forces.

But Ethiopian troops’ retaliations have caused many casualties among Somali civilians.

Since the Ethiopian invasion, about one million Somalis have fled their homes. An estimated 6,500 civilians have been killed.

Aid workers estimate 2.6 million Somalis need assistance. That number is expected to reach 3.5 million by the end of the year if the humanitarian situation does not improve, according to the UN.

In May 2008, Amnesty International accused the Ethiopian troops in Somalia of increasingly resorting to throat-slitting executions, highlighting an "increasing incidence" of gruesome methods by Ethiopian forces that include rape and torture.

Since the ousting of the ICU, Somalia had plunged into unprecedented chaos, where warlords and pirates have returned to the scene.

Many in Somalia see the departure of Ethiopian troops as a precondition to peace negotiations.
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Re: Situation worsens in Somalia, insurgents now control much of south
« Reply #28 on: December 10, 2008, 10:08:56 AM »
Somalia: 30 killed in renewed clashes
Posted on Sunday 7 December 2008 - 10:45

http://www.africanews.com/site/list_messages/22017


Separate clashes have erupted in Somalia especially in the capital city of Mogadishu, the central regions - Gedo, Baidoa, and Juba regions. At least 30 people have been killed and more others injured in the fighting among Islamists, clan militia, and Ethiopian troops.
Late on Friday, 15 civilians died after Ethiopian troops fired heavy mortar shells in Suqa-holaha village northeast of Mogadishu. 25 others got wounded in this area, eye witnesses said. The accident broke out when insurgents threw several mortar shells into the base of Ethiopian forces in Huriwa districts.

Officials at Daynile Hospital projected about 25 injured persons including women and children.

In Baidoa, the settlement area of the Somali congress, insurgents attacked with grenades at government armed forces in a market place on Saturday. Witnesses said the explosion killed two civilians and 10 were injured including government soldiers.

Also, at least 12 people were killed and 10 others wounded after clashes between two groups Al shabab and Ahlu Sunna wal-Jamee’a broke out.

Reports coming from Juba regions say several people are dead and wounded as a result of heavy clashes near Dhoobley between Al shabab Militants who control the area and troops loyal to Ogden National liberation front (ONLF).

“Al Shabab attacked our military base in Ali-Bolay near Dhoobley. We defended ourselves and battled the enemy. Some of our people are wounded but no death. I don’t know their side,” said Hamid Hirsi a spokesperson of ONLF armed men.

Several people embarked on demonstrations to register their protest against the war. They wielded placards some of which read: “We don’t like this war and must stop it.”
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Re: Situation worsens in Somalia, insurgents now control much of south
« Reply #29 on: December 11, 2008, 07:20:43 AM »
US gets tough on Somali pirates
By Laura Trevelyan
BBC News, UN headquarters, New York

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/7776664.stm

 
Piracy has grown increasingly lucrative in Somalia


Foreign troops supporting Somalia's government should be allowed to capture Somali pirates on land, according to a draft UN Security Council resolution.

The draft has been circulated by the US and seen by UN diplomats in New York.

Currently countries are allowed to hunt down pirates in Somalia's territorial waters but not pursue them on land.

Piracy off Somalia's coastline is rife - 120 attacks have been reported in 2008, and at least 16 ships are still being held, including a Saudi tanker.

The UN Security Council passed a resolution in June allowing countries operating with the consent of Somalia's transitional government to go into Somalia's territorial waters and use force to capture pirates.

Now the US is proposing stronger measures.

Security Council diplomats say an American-drafted resolution suggests countries should be able to pursue pirates onto land if necessary, providing the Somali government agrees.

America's deputy ambassador at the UN, Alejandro Wolff, said that given the threats posed by pirates no stone would be left unturned on this issue.

It is not clear how much support this proposal will have - Russia and China are traditionally cautious about interfering in the affairs of other nations.

US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, will be at the UN next Tuesday for a meeting on piracy, and US diplomats hope the resolution will be adopted then.

In its final weeks, President Bush's administration is also pushing for an international peacekeeping force to be sent to Somalia.

UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon suggested a coalition of the willing should be assembled rather than a conventional UN peacekeeping force, as there is no peace to keep in Somalia - so far countries have not volunteered to send their troops.
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Re: Situation worsens in Somalia, insurgents now control much of south
« Reply #30 on: December 11, 2008, 03:04:16 PM »
Top Islamist returns to Somalia
 
Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed backs a UN-brokered reconciliation process

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/7775697.stm


One of Somalia's main Islamist leaders has returned to the Somali capital two years after being driven from power.

Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed's Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) was ousted by the Ethiopian-backed interim government.

His arrival follows a deal, between the government and the opposition movement he now leads, which should see Ethiopia withdraw its forces later this month.

The Islamist al-Shabab insurgent group that controls much of southern Somalia has not signed up to the peace deal.

Correspondents say Mr Ahmed was regarded as the more moderate of the leaders in the UIC, the group which ruled most of the country for the second half of 2006.

Islamist rival Sheikh Hassan Aweys has accused Mr Ahmed of siding with the enemy.

Somalia has been without a central government for nearly two decades and half of the population is dependent on food aid.

'Good step forward'

Mr Ahmed was welcomed at Mogadishu's main airport by members of the current government.

UN peace envoy to Somalia, Ahmedou Ould Abdallah, told the BBC it was "a good step forward" in the peace process.

In late 2006, the UIC, which Mr Ahmed headed along with Mr Aweys, was overthrown by troops from neighbouring Ethiopia - who still protect the beleaguered government they then installed.

The Ethiopian move was supported by the United States, which said the Somali Islamists had links with al-Qaeda.

BBC world affairs correspondent Mark Doyle says over the past two years Mogadishu has been the scene of violence on a scale that is unprecedented even for Somalia.

Islamist and nationalist forces have battled the Somali government and their Ethiopian allies on an almost daily basis, causing at least half a million people to flee the city into the surrounding semi-desert.
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Re: Situation worsens in Somalia, insurgents now control much of south
« Reply #31 on: December 11, 2008, 05:27:34 PM »
Atrocity Unlimited: US Seeks to Turn Somalia into Global Free-Fire Zone
Chris Floyd


www.uruknet.info?p=49502

Link: www.chris-floyd.com/component/content/article/3/1660-atrocity-unlimited-us-seeks
   -to-turn-somalia-into-global-free-fire-zone.html

December 11. 2008


Not content with destroying the only vestige of stability that Somalia had known for almost two decades by arming, backing and participating in a brutal "regime change" invasion by Ethiopia, the Bush Administration now wants to turn the ravaged land into an international "free fire zone," a giant Fallujah where any powerful nation on earth can launch armed incursions on Somali soil, wreaking the usual "collateral damage" in the search for pirates -- or for those arbitrarily designated as pirates.

The Bush Regime is drafting a UN Security Council resolution that will give "the international community" carte blanche to "hunt down" alleged pirates on land in Somalia, the Guardian reports:

A draft resolution that would permit states fighting piracy to "take all necessary measures ashore in Somalia, including in its airspace" has been circulated to members of the UN Security Council. Prior consent for raids would be required from Somalia's weak and fractured government...

As we noted here recently, the "Somali government" is a rapidly collapsing coalition of CIA-paid warlords and Ethiopian collaborators which "controls" only a few city blocks of territory in the entire country. It is unfathomable that this near-fictitious entity would or could oppose a "request" by a world power to send armed forces into Somalia in a noble quest to clamp down on pirates. And what happens when these invading forces inevitably clash with the various other armed groups now waging a multi-sided, hydra-headed war in the country? Why, the invaders will have to take stern "force protection" measures, of course.

The story goes on to note that the locations of the "pirate lairs are well-known":

Along Somalia's north-eastern coast, villages and towns such as Eyl, Haradheere and Hobyo provide sanctuary and logistical support for pirate gangs holding at least 14 ships.

And it is certainly not surprising that the Western backers of the Somali "government" know just where the pirates are: they provided mighty assistance in their rise, as we noted here a few weeks ago:

For one thing, [the Times] notes something that is almost never mentioned in any story about Somalia, neither in the very rare stories about the conflict itself or the rather more numerous stories about piracy and its effects on commercial shipping (an issue far more important that the lives of 10,000 innocent human beings, of course): the fact that the main backers and bankrollers of the pirate gangs "are linked to the Western-backed government."

The conservative UK paper then goes on to give an accurate account of how these pirate-backing factions came to power -- facts that are almost universally ignored by the "liberal" American media . (Not to mention the "progressive blogosphere;" indeed, you can actually find more references to the Somalia war in the corporate press than among our internet "dissidents.") :

Years of violence, neglect and misguided policies have left Somalia one of the most dangerous countries and a breeding ground for the pirates attacking one of the world’s busiest shipping routes.

Today the northeast area of the country, including Puntland, has been carved up by warlords who finance themselves by drug and gun running. This is also the heartland of the pirates, whose main backers are linked to the Western-backed government. Radical Islamists control much of the south, including the key port of Kismayo and the porous border area with Kenya, a staunch Western ally.

This has realised a Western nightmare, which was supposed to have been destroyed by Ethiopia’s American-backed invasion of Somalia two years ago in support of a puppet government created by the international community. That alliance spanned the spectrum from extreme radicals to moderate, devout Muslims. The latter were in charge.

Everyone – except Pentagon planners, it seems – knew that Somalia had never proved fertile territory for Saudi-style radical Islam. However, indiscriminate bombing of civilian areas by Ethiopia, Somalia’s historic enemy, with huge casualties, put an end to that. The Islamists were driven out, the moderates went into exile and the hardliners took control of the south with a popular powerbase beyond their wildest dreams.

A puppet government, installed by foreign invasion, riddled with crime and corruption, alienating and radicalizing the population: here we see the quintessential template of the "War on Terror," replicated faithfully in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Somalia -- and soon, perhaps, in Pakistan.

And now the Bush Regime -- going out in a Götterdämmerung of blood and fury aimed at the world (and at the American people) -- wants to intensify the chaos in Somalia, laying it bare to more invasions, "precision strikes," death squad operations, renditions and other atrocities, this time coming from not just from Washington and its Terror War proxies but from all directions. This is the answer of the American militarist state to any problem, such as piracy or terrorism: the blunderbuss assault of massive military force by land, sea and air; vast destruction, social collapse -- and immeasurable, unbounded human suffering.

This is the reality of much-praised "continuity" in "national security affairs" that Barack Obama's appointments have promised. This is what will be "continued."

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Re: Situation worsens in Somalia, insurgents now control much of south
« Reply #32 on: December 12, 2008, 11:03:22 AM »
'Thousands' desert Somalia forces
 
The UN says militants get weapons from the deserters

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/7779525.stm

More than 80% of Somalia's soldiers and police - about 15,000 members - have deserted, some taking weapons, uniforms and vehicles, the UN says.


The head of the UN monitoring group on Somalia, Dumisani Kumalo, said Islamist insurgents got many of their weapons and ammunition from the deserters.

The head of the Somali police rejected the UN's report.

Meanwhile, the African Union wants peacekeepers from Burundi and Uganda to stay when Ethiopian troops leave soon.

In the UN report, Mr Kumalo, the South African ambassador, also said most of the Somali government's security budget - supposedly 70% of its total budget - disappeared through corruption.

The Somali police chief, Abdi Awale, said all the money had been properly spent, and only a few soldiers and police officers had deserted.

Peacekeeper pledge

With Somalia's fragile transitional government facing a growing insurgency, the African Union's top diplomat said he hoped the 3,400 peacekeepers currently stationed in Mogadishu would stay - despite claims by the Ethiopian prime minister that they would leave.

"We have asked the African countries to increase their participation in Somalia, asked the UNSC (UN Security Council) to join us there, and to the AU partners to help us financing this force," Jean Ping said.

"A withdrawal from Somalia is something we cannot accept, not only the AU, but also the rest of the world," he said, according to AFP news agency.

Mr Ping's comments come in response to a statement in the Ethiopian parliament by Prime Minister Meles Zenawi that African Union peacekeepers wanted to leave Somalia.

The AU force, from Uganda and Burundi, had been expected to stay and even beef up its presence to make up for the planned Ethiopian pull-out at the end of the month.

Ethiopia has said Burundi and Uganda have asked its army to help their peacekeepers pull-out, but Burundi and Uganda have denied this.

The United Nations Security Council is due to consider a US proposal to send a full UN peacekeeping force to Somalia - something the AU has been pressing for.

Ethiopia troops intervened two years ago to oust Islamist forces from the capital, Mogadishu.

But different Islamist factions are again in control of much of southern Somalia.
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Re: Situation worsens in Somalia, insurgents now control much of south
« Reply #33 on: December 12, 2008, 03:20:36 PM »
Civilians killed in Somalia clashes

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/africa/2008/12/20081211104212629171.html

Ahmed, the UIC leader, returned to Somalia after two years following a peace deal [AFP]


At least six civilians have been killed and dozens wounded in Mogadishu in clashes between Ethiopian-backed government forces and opposition fighters.

The fighting came on Thursday, a day after Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, leader of the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC), a major opposition group, made his first visit to Somalia in two years.

Ahmed's return to Mogadishu follows a peace deal between the government and the UIC, which should see Ethiopian forces pull out later this month.

Under the agreement, the Somali parliament will be doubled to 550 seats, with 200 going to Ahmed's group and 75 to the members of civil society.

However, the Al-Shabab group that controls much of southern Somalia has not signed up to the deal.

Ahmed, along with other top leaders, left Somalia in late 2006 after the UIC, which had ruled much of southern and central Somalia, was routed by allied Somali government and Ethiopian forces.

Somalia's new parliament is scheduled to elect leadership for the Horn of Africa nation early next year.

Piracy

The fighting in Mogadishu came on the same day representatives from 40 countries met in Nairobi, Kenya to try solve the piracy problem off Somalia's coast.

Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the UN's special representative for Somalia, said the world has ignored the issue for long.

Somali pirates have seized several large vessels in recent months, including a tanker carrying millions of gallons of crude oil and a Ukrainian freighter loaded with tanks and other military hardware.

An estimated $30m in ransom have been extorted by the pirates this year.

The US sought international authorisation on Wednesday to hunt pirates on land with the co-operation of Somalia's weak government.

The last time the US military entered Somalia in 1992-1993 culminated in deadly clashes in Mogadishu that forced the withdrawal of American forces from the country.
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Re: Situation worsens in Somalia, insurgents now control much of south
« Reply #34 on: December 15, 2008, 07:04:09 AM »
Somali president sacks government

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/asia/2008/12/200812147953267517.html



Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, the president of Somalia, has dismissed the transitional government led by Nur Hassan Hussein, the prime minister.


"As of now, I have sacked the prime minister and his current government and I will nominate a new prime minister within days," Yusuf said on Sunday at a news conference in the town of Baidoa, where the government is based.

"The government of Nur Hassan Hussein was unable to perform its duties and I am obliged to save the country," he said.

Hussein became prime minister in November 2007 but has disagreed with Yusuf, mostly notably over ongoing peace talks with opposition groups and the make up of a new cabinet.

"The president was speaking in his usual personal capacity, contrary to the rules and regulations, as he is not mandated to sack the prime minister of the transitional federal government," Hussein said after Yusuf announced his decision.

Parliamentary approval

Under the transitional federal charter, the president needs the parliament's approval to sack the prime minister.

"The government of Nur Hassan Hussein was unable to perform its duties and I am obliged to save the country"

Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed,
Somali president



But Yusuf expressed confidence that MPs would back his decision.

"Most of the parliamentarians will endorse my decision to dismiss the prime minister," he said.
   
"Should parliament reject my desire to look for a new prime minister, I will comply with their decision and the current government will continue its tenure."

Dr Yusuf al-Hazari, a political and legal adviser to the president, told Al Jazeera that Yusuf had the right to remove the prime minister if he failed to form a cabinet within the time limit set by the constitution. 

"That is always one month and he couldn't establish or form the cabinet ... Nur Hussein could not compose it in two months and 16 days," he said.

Last month, Hussein blamed the president, who has been head of state since the inception of the transitional government in 2004, for the problems in the government due to his refusal to approve new ministers.

Leaders in the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), made up of Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya, Sudan, Uganda and Somalia, had called for the new cabinet to be named at a meeting in October.

Government struggles

Hussein replaced Ali Mohamed Gedi who was forced to resign after months of a struggles with Yusuf.

In 2008, he survived a vote of no confidence after some legislators accused him of embezzling state funds.

The transitional government in Somalia has struggled to enforce its control over the chaotic country and in 2006 needed assistance from the Ethiopian military to retake large areas of the country controlled by the Islamic Courts Union.

Since then government forces and their Ethiopian allies have come under near daily attack as the oppostion fighters have gradually re-established their influence.

In November, Yusuf said the government was "on the verge of total collapse" after opposition fighters retook control of large areas of the country.
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Re: Situation worsens in Somalia, insurgents now control much of south
« Reply #35 on: December 23, 2008, 05:06:57 PM »
Somebody Is Giving Somali Pirates State-Level Intelligence Information

Somebody Is Giving Somali Pirates State-Level Intelligence Information

http://www.americanfreepress.net/html/somali_pirates_161.html

By Victor Thorn


Dispatched from a mother ship in the Gulf of Aden, a dozen pirates toting rocket-propelled grenades, AK 47s, and grappling hooks leap from speedboats to seize control of another ship, which they then commandeer back to the Port of Eyl in Somalia. So far this year, African pirates have hijacked over 100 vessels, collecting approximately $150 million in ransom money. The payments are concealed in waterproof suitcases, then unloaded into the ocean from specially designated helicopters.

Becoming more brazen each week, the pirates recently abducted a Ukranian ship carrying $30 million worth of Soviet-made tanks, grenade launchers, and ammunition; a Saudi Arabian supertanker loaded with $100 million of crude oil; a British luxury cruise liner; a Japanese chemical tanker; a UN relief boat; while an American naval supply ship was also unsuccessfully targeted.

Currently, at least 17 ships and 300 seamen are being detained in Somali ports as negotiations between the pirates and owners take place.

The problem has taken on such international significance that the seas surrounding Africa are being guarded by NATO, China, the U.S., European Union, Russia, India, France, and the UK; while South Korea and Japan intend to join the coalition. To protect their interests, warships, destroyers, helicopters, and nuclear-powered submarines now patrol this area to combat what some call an “oceanic mafia epidemic.”

Newsweek reports that some ship owners have taken to lining the outside of their crafts with barbed wire to prevent sea bandits from boarding. Additional deterrents include electrified fences, high-powered fire hoses, and Long-Range Acoustic Devices (IRADs) that emit an excruciating wall of sound capable of deafening or bursting the eardrums of would-be hijackers.




Despite these efforts, Somali piracy has become a booming industry, with ransom payments surpassing the entire budget of some provinces, such as Puntland. The pirates even boast an official spokesman (Sugule Ali), while syndicate leaders reside in mansions, drive imported luxury cars, and open special eateries which cater to the pirates and their hostages. To facilitate the movement of their illegally seized currency, pirates either launder it through Kenya (whose financial system annually handles over $100 million in dirty money), or via hawala—an informal Western Union-style transfer network in the Islamic world that leaves no paper trail, no records, and has no government regulation.

A recent report by the State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics claims there have been “no arrests or prosecution  for money laundering” related to these activities.

The modern-day piracy phenomenon began in 1991 when warlords overthrew Somali dictator Mohamed Siad Barre. With no effective central government, fishermen in this region began noticing that laws against illegal fishing along their 1,800-mile coastline were not being enforced, while they accused international companies of dumping toxic and/or nuclear waste in their waters. With their health and livelihoods threatened, along with mass hunger and continual war against Ethiopia, vigilante syndicates such as the Majarteen clan arose from this chaos.

Spokesman Sugule Ali characterizes the situation as such. “We don’t consider ourselves sea bandits. We are simply patrolling our seas. Think of us like a coast guard.” Another pirate ringleader, Asad Abdulahi, concurs. “We don’t see hijacking as a criminal act, but as a road tax because we have no central government to control our seas.”

The problem is more complex. Evidence shows that some of the ransom money is being funneled toward al-Shabaab, a 3,000-member insurgency group founded in 2004 that has engaged in bombings, shootings, and other
violent acts in their wars against Ethiopian soldiers and the Somali government.

Since 30 percent of the world’s oil passes through the Gulf of Aden, the Horn of Africa leading to the Indian Ocean is an area of global importance. It becomes even more strategic when considering that sophisticated weaponry—brokered in secret deals with Sudan—is being seized, not to mention a ten-fold increase in insurance premiums for ships traveling through this treacherous territory.

Still, some suggest Somali piracy is in fact an excuse for certain countries to exercise or regain their naval supremacy. On the other hand, Jeff Stein of CQ Homeland Security writes that “shadowy individuals in
Europe or elsewhere may be pulling the strings, ordering ship hijackings from lists of sailing vessels and satellite tracking.”

He then quotes a CIA expert on Africa. “The timing and knowledge of which ships to attack are too good to leave to pirates.”

Journalists Patrick Mayoyo and Lucas Barasa agree. A Somali military policeman told them that “unidentified Western countries are benefiting from piracy.

These pirates are well-connected, and some work with mafias and other international criminals who supply them with arms through countries like Yemen.” A final contingent looks to Israel as the main culprit, claiming that they’re not the actual pirates, but merely sponsors; their goal being to spread piracy so that the Red Sea off the coast of Saudi Arabia would have to be internationalized to combat “Islamic terrorism.”

To make matters worse, U.N. mandates prohibit crew members on merchant ships from carrying firearms, and don’t allow navies to board a ship after its been hijacked.

Victor Thorn is a hard-hitting researcher, journalist and the author of many books on 9-11 and the New World Order. These include 9-11 Evil: The Israeli Role in 9-11 and Phantom Flight 93.
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Re: Situation worsens in Somalia, insurgents now control much of south
« Reply #36 on: December 31, 2008, 08:57:15 AM »
Islamists on verge of seizing Somalia capital

By Zoe Alsop in Nairobi

Tuesday December 30 2008

http://www.independent.ie/world-news/africa/islamists-on-verge-of-seizing-somalia-capital-1587703.html


The president of Somalia's official government resigned yesterday, causing yet more political turmoil, as radical Islamists prepared to seize the capital, Mogadishu.

Abdullahi Yusuf, a 74-year-old former warlord, admitted that his Western-backed transitional government had failed to unite the country during his four-year tenure.

"I had promised to return the power if I could not bring peace, stability and democracy where people can elect their leader," he said.

Mr Yusuf's government controlled hardly any territory and depended largely on troops from neighbouring Ethiopia, who invaded Somalia in December 2006. However, they are on the point of leaving. Once Ethiopian forces depart, radical Islamists are likely to seize Mogadishu and large areas of southern Somalia.

Mr Yusuf has chosen to resign a few days before he would otherwise have been overthrown or forced to evacuate the capital.

The outgoing president explained that he had been unable to pay his soldiers. "Then the army disintegrated, unable to fight extremists," he explained to reporters.

Mr Yusuf is a polarising figure in Somalia. He refused to negotiate with moderate Islamist opposition, pushing them into the arms of the hardline movements, which may have links to al-Qa'ida and is now poised to locked into a power struggle with his prime minister, Nur Hassan Hussein. Somalia has had no functioning central govern-ment since 1991
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Re: Situation worsens in Somalia, insurgents now control much of south
« Reply #37 on: January 01, 2009, 11:38:13 AM »
Somalia: 17 People Killed in Attacks

30 December 2008
http://allafrica.com/stories/200812310030.html   
 

At least 17 people were killed Tuesday in Somalia in guerrilla attacks attributed to the country's Islamist rebels, Radio Garowe reports.


Most of the people died in Mogadishu' s Bakara Market, where seven civilians were killed when a shell slammed into a crowded restaurant, witnesses said.

Three civilians died at a house hit by a mortar in Waberi district, including a young girl.

The battles started after the Islamist rebel group, Al Shabaab, initiated an organized attack on Somali policemen on patrol, who were quickly aided by Ethiopian troops.

The fighting and subsequent bombardment lasted for one hour.

Separately, a bomb explosion in Hamarweyne district killed at least three people including two Somali police officers.

Witnesses said a roadside bomb targeted the police vehicle as it drove, with emerging reports telling Radio Garowe that four other people were wounded in that explosion.

More than 35 wounded people have been admitted into Medina and Daynile hospitals, medical sources said.

Somalia has been wracked by civil war and foreign occupation since 1991, when the country's last effective national government was overthrown and the Horn of Africa country plunged into chaos.
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Re: Ethiopians commence withdrawal of forces from Somalia
« Reply #38 on: January 02, 2009, 10:10:57 AM »
Ethiopia 'begins Somalia pullout'
 
Many Somalis resent the presence of the Ethiopian troops

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/7808495.stm


Ethiopia says its troops have begun their final pullout from Somalia, after two years helping the transitional government there fight insurgents.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi's spokesman said the withdrawal would take several days.

A convoy of about 30 Ethiopian vehicles loaded with troops and equipment has left the Somali capital, Mogadishu.

Hours earlier a roadside bomb killed two Ethiopian soldiers and several civilians died when troops opened fire.

"We have already started to implement our withdrawal plan. It will take some more days. It is a process and it will take some time," Bereket Simon, special adviser to the Ethiopian premier, told AFP news agency.

There are currently some 3,600 Ugandan and Burundian African Union (AU) peacekeepers in Somalia who are due to take over security duties until joint units involving government forces and moderate opposition factions are established.

But there are fears that violence will continue despite a peace deal between Somalia's transitional government and one of the main opposition factions. Some fear the Ethiopian withdrawal could lead to a power vacuum.

But others say it could make it easier for a new government to be formed, including moderate Islamist forces.

The Ethiopian intervention to help government forces oust Islamists from the capital two years ago was deeply unpopular with many Somalis.

Various Islamist and nationalist groups now control much of southern Somalia.

Government forces only control parts of Mogadishu and the town of Baidoa.
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Re: Ethiopians commence withdrawal of forces from Somalia
« Reply #39 on: January 04, 2009, 10:51:33 AM »
Somali police stations In Mogadishu fall to rebels

Last update: January 3, 2009 - 4:06 PM

http://www.startribune.com/world/37044614.html?elr=KArks:DCiUBcy7hUiD3aPc:_Yyc:aULPQL7PQLanchO7DiU

MOGADISHU, SOMALIA -
Islamic insurgents appeared to be scrambling for power Saturday, taking over several police stations in Mogadishu, the capital, as Ethiopian troops who have been propping up the government began to pull out, witnesses said.

Many fear that the Ethiopian pullout -- and last month's resignation of Somalia's president -- will cause Islamic extremists to fight among themselves for power, bringing even more chaos to this beleaguered Horn of Africa nation.

The Somalia government, with the tacit approval of the United States, called in the Ethiopians in 2006 to support the U.N.-backed government and rout Islamic militants who had taken over most of the country.

Initially, the Ethiopians' superior firepower worked -- the Islamists were driven from power. But they quickly regrouped in the north and launched an insurgency that continues today.
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