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Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Somali, Ethiopian troops intervene to stop clan fighting

Also in the news: [Two rocket explosions, firefight in Somali capital] - [U.S. Launches Airstrike in Somalia] - [Reject claims of Somali 'crisis'] - ['Many dead' in US air strikes on Somalia] - [More attacks on Ethiopian troops by unidentified gunmen] - [EU criticises alleged US airstrike in southern Somalia]

International: [Chavez moving towards a full socialist state] - [New Saddam video posted] - [Palestinian militants: Held Israeli OK] - [Prince William's girlfriend spurs a media storm] - [World's smallest country up for sale] and more of today's top stories

Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, the main target of the U.S. military action Monday in Somalia, is a master of disguises who speaks several languages and likes to wear baseball caps (photo: Courtesy of the FBI)

Somali, Ethiopian troops intervene to stop clan fighting

KISMAYO, Somalia Jan 9 (Garowe Online) - In a sign of things to come, Ethiopian troops were dispatched alongside Somali forces to the town of Beerhaano in southern Somalia to intervene between warring clan militias.

The clan militias had been fighting in the area in the past days, with clan leaders saying at least 5 people were killed.

The interim Somali government had previously appealed for the clan militias to stop the fighting, and Col. Barre “Hirale” Adan Shire, the government’s defense chief, held inconclusive talks with clan elders in Kismayo.

“The government deployed troops to the area to halt the fighting,” one military official who declined to be named told Garowe Online from Kismayo.(More...)

Two rocket explosions, firefight in Somali capital

MOGADISHU (Reuters) - Unknown assailants fired rocket propelled grenades at a building in Mogadishu housing Ethiopian and Somali troops, the same site where at least one person was killed in an attack over the weekend.

A Reuters reporter near the building in the Kilometre Four area of the capital heard the two RPGs explode followed by five minutes of automatic weapons fire, and later, sporadic shots.

It was not immediately clear if anyone was hurt in the attack, which a witness from a neighboring hotel confirmed had struck the building patrolled by Somali troops.

"Fighting is going on at Kilometre Four at the same building where Ethiopian and government troops were attacked before. I heard two big bangs. A car is burning outside," the witness, who declined to be named, said.(More...)

U.S. Launches Airstrike in Somalia

MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) - A U.S. airstrike hit targets in southern Somalia where Islamic militants were believed to be sheltering suspects in the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies, Somali officials and witnesses said Tuesday. Many people were reported killed.

Monday's attack was the first overt military action by the U.S. in Somalia since the 1990s and the legacy of a botched intervention - known as ``Black Hawk Down'' - that left 18 U.S. servicemen dead.

Helicopter gunships launched new attacks Tuesday near the scene of the U.S. airstrike, although it was not clear if they were American or Ethiopian aircraft, and it was not known if there were any casualties.

Two helicopters ``fired several rockets toward the road that leads to the Kenyan border,'' said Ali Seed Yusuf, a resident of the town of Afmadow in southern Somalia.

The aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower arrived off Somalia's coast and launched intelligence-gathering missions over Somalia, the military said. Three other U.S. warships are conducting anti-terror operations off the Somali coast. (More...)

Reject claims of Somali 'crisis'

President Bush declared: "All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know: The United States will not ignore your oppression, or excuse your oppressors. When you stand for your liberty, we will stand with you." He probably did not have Ethiopia in mind when he said that.


For the past 15 years, Somalia has been in a state of clan warfare and anarchy.

Following the bombing of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, U.S. policy in Somalia focused on counterterrorism and the capture of the so-called East African cell of al-Qaida operatives. This past June, an alliance of Islamist militiamen suspected of having ties to terrorism swept the country, forcing the Western-backed Somali Transitional Government to retreat to the town of Baidoa, under the protection of Ethiopian troops.

The current invasion of Somalia by troops loyal to Ethiopian dictator Meles Zenawi evokes images of the fireman who deliberately sets a house on fire and calls the fire department to come and put it out. As the firemen arrive, he is heroically fighting the blaze, earning the gratitude and admiration of his colleagues.

Zenawi is the metaphorical equivalent of the fireman. He invented a jihadist bogeyman in Somalia, exaggerated the Islamist threat and caused panic and alarm in the Bush administration. Now he hopes to present himself as America's No. 1 ally in fighting terrorism in the Horn of Africa.(More...)

'Many dead' in US air strikes on Somalia

The United States has launched air strikes against Islamists in southern Somalia, confirming the country's status as a new frontline in Washington's war on terror.

An AC130 warplane strafed the village of Hayo nearly the Kenyan border late yesterday afternoon leaving "many dead", according to the Somali government. Ras Kamboni, on the country's southernmost tip, was also said to have been hit.

There were also reports today of two further strikes by helicopter gunships, but it was unclear whether these were US or Ethiopian operations.(More...)

More attacks on Ethiopian troops by unidentified gunmen

The Somali capital, Mogadishu, is calm after overnight shooting and more attacks on Ethiopian troops by unidentified gunmen. At the weekend, protests over the presence of Ethiopian forces backing the interim government turned to violence leaving one dead in Mogadishu.

It is unclear if the gunmen are linked to Islamists who threatened an insurgency after their recent defeat. The government is discussing moving to the capital, to avert a power vacuum.

US Assistant Secretary of State Jendayi Frazer has concluded her tour of Somalia's neighbours, saying five countries from the region have been identified to supply peacekeeping troops for Somalia. On her last day Ms Frazer held talks with leaders of the Somali transitional government and the speaker of national assembly.

In addition, a deadline given to a group of Somali MPs who have been staying in Kenya to leave the country expires on Monday. Speaker of the transitional parliament, Sharif Hassan Sheikh Adan, has said he will try to persuade the ousted leaders of the Union of Islamic Courts to join in a national reconciliation process. (More...)

EU criticises alleged US airstrike in southern Somalia

Brussels - The European Commission on Tuesday criticised the reported United States airstrike against a suspected al-Qaeda cell in southern Somalia, calling it counterproductive to peace efforts for the war-torn African country.

While there was a risk of foreign extremists operating from Somalia, 'any incident of that kind is not helpful in the long-term,' a commission spokesman told reporters.

The Somali interim government confirmed earlier Tuesday that at least 30 people had been killed in a US airstrike against a suspected al-Qaeda cell in southern Somalia.

The commission spokesman said that Somalia's fundamental problem was a lack of state, adding: 'Only a political solution can bring serious chances for lasting peace and stability.'

He also called for an 'inclusive political process' with the moderate members of the Islamic courts in Somalia. (More...)

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