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Sunday, December 24, 2006

Breaking news - Ethiopia Launches Airstrikes in Somalia, bombs Airports and Bridges

Also in the news: [Ethiopia 'officially' at war] - [U.S. policy in the Horn of Africa may aid al-Qaida, experts warn]

Ethiopia 'officially' at war

In his address to the Nation concerning the current situation in Somalia, broadcast live on Ethiopian Television and Radio, Prime Minister Meles said Ethiopia had been "forced to enter a war" and that the Ethiopian National Defense Forces will relinquish Somalia immediately after accomplishing their mission.

Ethiopia Launches Airstrikes in Somalia, bombs Airports and Bridges

Mogadishu - Ethiopian warplanes attacked two Islamist-held airfields in Somalia on Monday, witnesses said, in the most dramatic strikes yet of a war threatening to engulf the Horn of Africa.

The attacks - one on the capital Mogadishu - came hours after Ethiopia formally declared war, saying it was protecting its sovereignty against a movement run by terrorists.

Fighting raged for a seventh day near Daynunay, close to the government seat, Baidoa. Witnesses reported truck-loads of Ethiopian wounded being evacuated, and Islamist soldiers were said to be reciting the Qur'an as they went into battle.

A MiG fighter struck Mogadishu's international airport with machinegun fire soon after dawn, airport managing director Abdirahim Adan told Reuters. Three jets later attacked Somalia's biggest military airfield at Baledogle, 100km west of Mogadishu. (More...)

U.S. policy in the Horn of Africa may aid al-Qaida, experts warn

"Even powerful U.S. politicians have had a role in American policy surrounding the complex conflict. Dick Armey, the former majority leader in the GOP-run House of Representatives, has been lobbying for Ethiopia (government), congressional aides said. Last summer, Armey worked to block a vote on a bipartisan bill to cut U.S. security aid to Ethiopia if it failed to halt political repression. The Bush administration also opposed the bill." - Jonathan S. Landay and Shashank Bengali

NAIROBI, Kenya — As fighting intensified Friday between Somali Islamists and an Ethiopian intervention force, Western diplomats and experts warned that U.S. policy in the Horn of Africa - intended to curb Islamic radicalism - may not only be fueling this newest conflict, but also may be making it easier for al-Qaida to gain a foothold in the strategic region.

Fighting raged for a fourth day around Baidoa, the last bastion of Somalia's U.N.-recognized Transitional Federal Government, which is depending on Ethiopian troops for its survival. Both Islamists and the government claimed advances after what was described as a heavy artillery exchange.

The top Islamist official renewed his call for "jihad" against what he said was Ethiopian invaders, and there were reports of an armored column of Ethiopian tanks heading into central Somalia. (More...)