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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

U.S. airstrike in Somalia stemmed from Ethiopian tip

Also in the news: [Situation of Human Rights in Ethiopia from Bad to Worse: THE OBSERVATORY for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders] - [Fazul Abdullah Mohammed killed says Somali official] - [US bombards Somalia for third day] - [An increasingly futile war] - [World Bank provides US$175 mln grant to Ethiopia]

International: [Sudan: U.N. Forces Not Needed in Darfur] - [Deaths as bird flu flares in Asia] - [Ortega Returns to Power in Nicaragua] - [James Brown still not buried] - [Beckham to leave Real] and more of today's top stories

International Mission of Judicial Observation (fidh and OMCT)

ETHIOPIA: The Situation of Human Rights Defenders From Bad to Worse

In light of recent events in Ethiopia, there is a serious growing concern for human rights and human rights defenders at large. The civil society's day-to-day situation on the ground has been going from bad to worse since the May 2005 elections.

The current trial of opposition leaders, journalists and human rights defenders shows a general context of hostility towards civil society activists. In the government's opinion, it is clearly stated that, in the wake of democratic elections, opposition leaders, human rights and civil society activists wanted to undermine the political and ethnic values of the ruling regime. This trial, as well as the ongoing harassment of civil society organisations and the violent repression of the protest movements in June and November 2005, does not only represent an alarming step towards the hardening of the regime: it also clearly shows that the repeated statements of the Government claiming its commitment to democratic values and human rights are to be taken with the utmost prudence, if not refuted.

All defendants, currently behind bars, along with many others whose names and whereabouts remain unknown, are at risk of being kept at length in custody awaiting trial or sentenced to long imprisonment terms if not death. Moreover, allegations of
ill-treatment, forced disappearances and summary executions are rampant in the country.(More...)

U.S. airstrike in Somalia stemmed from Ethiopian tip

The Ethiopian military provided the targeting intelligence used by a U.S. Special Forces aerial gunship in a strike in southern Somalia that reportedly killed a top al-Qaida figure, a U.S. military official said on Wednesday.

The raid, conducted by an AC-130 gunship early Monday on a remote island at the southern tip of Somalia, was done in "close cooperation" with Ethiopia, a U.S. ally in the war on terror, said the U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity surrounding U.S. Special Operations missions.

"We acted on time-sensitive intelligence and made the strike in cooperation with the Ethiopians," the U.S. official said, who is based in the region. He said Ethiopia provided the intelligence tip.

A single AC-130 gunship handled the raid on a group of "senior al-Qaida operatives," the official said.

A senior Somali official said Wednesday that the A130 strike killed Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, one of the FBI's most wanted terrorists, who has evaded capture for eight years. Mohammed was accused of planning the 1998 attacks on the U.S. Embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, which killed 225 people. There was no immediate U.S. confirmation of the report. (More...)

Fazul Abdullah Mohammed killed says Somali official

MOGADISHU, Somalia - A senior al-Qaida suspect wanted for bombing American embassies in East Africa was killed in a U.S. airstrike, a Somali official said Wednesday, a report that if confirmed would mean the end of an eight-year hunt for a top target of Washington's war on terrorism.

There was no immediate confirmation from the United States. In Washington, an intelligence official said the U.S. killed five to 10 people in an attack on an al-Qaida target in southern Somalia but did not say who was killed. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the operation's sensitivity, said perhaps four or five others were wounded.

The report came as U.S forces apparently launched a third day of airstrikes in southern Somalia. Witnesses said an AC-130 gunship attacked a suspected al-Qaida training camp. At least four separate strikes were reported Wednesday around Ras Kamboni, on the Somali coast and a few miles from the Kenyan border.

In three days of attacks near Afmadow, close to the Kenyan border, 64 civilians had been killed and 100 injured, said elder Haji Farah Qorshel. There was no independent confirmation of his claim.(More...)

US bombards Somalia for third day

US forces launched a third consecutive day of air strikes in Somalia today as a Somali government official said one of three al-Qaida suspects targeted by the raids was believed to have been killed.

The official said the operation was understood to have killed an al-Qaida militant thought to be behind the 1998 bombings of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, which killed 224 people in all.

"I have received a report from the American side chronicling the targets and list of damage. One of the items they were claiming was that Fazul Abdullah Mohammed is dead," said Abdirizak Hassan, the Somali president's chief of staff.(More...)

An increasingly futile war

The US administration took another fateful step towards direct military involvement in another conflict involving Islamic insurgents and illegal foreign occupations.

Yesterday's US air strike against suspected Islamists in Somalia may prove to be a one-off strike. But it crucially raises the stakes in what could still turn into a wider regional war.

Although Ethiopia's ambassador has claimed that Ethiopia's recent invasion of Somalia was justified on grounds of self-defence, few observers accept its legal basis. Most regard it as part of a wider ongoing proxy conflict fought between Eritrea and Ethiopia, which has the potential to suck the whole of the Horn of Africa back into war.(More...)

World Bank provides US$175 mln grant to Ethiopia

Jan 9, 2007 (WASHINGTON) — The World Bank Group board today approved a US$175 million grant to help vulnerable populations in Ethiopia lower their risks of serious food shortage and famine. The grant finances the second phase of an existing operation, the Productive Safety Net Program (PSNP), which is reaching over 7 million of the poorest Ethiopians through public works and direct grants.

The targeted beneficiaries of the program are chronically food insecure households which are unable to secure sufficient food for their families year after year. The grant will provide continuing funding for the program , while supporting improvements in the program governance and efficiency.

The PSNP was initiated in 2005, after the Coalition for the War against Hunger— comprising the Government of Ethiopia, its development partners, and key NGOs— pushed for more sustainable alternatives to the annual provision of large amounts of humanitarian food aid to prevent starvation. The program initially reached about 5 million chronically food-insecure people, then was scaled up in 2006 to reach 7.23 million people. The PSNP supports a large-scale public works initiative which pays wages to food insecure but able-bodied citizens. For those physically unable to work, the program provides direct grants.(More...)

Today's Top Stories

-Sudan: U.N. Forces Not Needed in Darfur
-Official: Bush plans 20,000 more troops for Iraq
-Deaths as bird flu flares in Asia
-Ortega Returns to Power in Nicaragua
-Brown not buried as family tackles estate issues
-Beckham 'to leave Real in summer'
-False priest arrested for selling Pope tickets