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Monday, January 08, 2007

We want negotiations with govt, says Islamist official

Also in the news: [Ethiopia's Intervention may Radicalize moderate Muslims] - [Gunmen attack Ethiopian troops in Mogadishu ] - [Somalis suffer along tense border with Kenya] - [Djibouti Urges Ethiopia to Pull Its Troops Out] - [Ethiopian fighter jets bomb southern Somalia]

International: [US envoy in new Darfur peace push] - [Bush to announce new Iraq plan Wednesday] - [Pelosi: Dems won't give Bush blank war check] - [Palestinian Gunmen Release Hamas Official] - [Iran's Ayatollah asserts pride in nuke achievements] and more of today's top stories

A Somali refugee father carries his son in front of shelters at Ifo camp near Dadaab, about 80km (50 miles) from Liboi on the border with Somalia in north-eastern Kenya, January 8, 2007. "People are scared of the Ethiopian troops" said another refugee ..."They are entering houses, taking mobile phones and radios" (Pic-Radu Sigheti/Reuters)


The Inquiry Commission's West Coast Tour

Jan 19 (Fri)....... Sacramento, CA
Jan 20 (Sat)....... San Francisco/Oakland, CA
Jan 21 (Sun)....... Los Angeles, CA
Jan 26 (Fri)....... Phoenix, AZ
Jan 27 (Sat)....... San Diego, CA
Jan 28 (Sun)....... Seattle, WA
Jan 31 (Wed)....... Las Vegas, Nevada

We want negotiations with govt, says Islamist official

SAN’A, Yemen Jan 8 - The Islamic Courts’ chief foreign officer, who is currently in Yemen, has said that the movement is ready to open negotiations with the interim Somali government.

Prof. Ibrahim Addow denied claims that the Islamist militia were defeated, saying that the militia withdrew to spare the Somali people more death and destruction.

“We accept to sit with the Somali government at the negotiation table and the [Islamic] Courts is always the group that loves peace,” Prof. Addow told Yemeni media on Monday.

The Islamist militia, which ruled Mogadishu and much of south-central Somalia since last June, has been completely routed from major population centers, and their remnants are believed to be hiding in the jungle areas near the Somali-Kenya border.(More...)

Gunmen attack Ethiopian troops in Mogadishu

MOGADISHU (Reuters) - Gunmen attacked Ethiopian troops in Somalia's capital Mogadishu on Sunday, residents said, as Somali and U.S. officials vowed to work together to stabilize the chaotic state.

In the second day of violence in Mogadishu directed at Ethiopian troops, Somali gunmen opened fire on the forces backing the interim government.

"Fierce fighting went on for 15 minutes. I could hear sounds of heavy machine guns rattling," said a resident, who lives nearby, adding that fighting was so fierce it lit up the area.

A witness said a young girl was killed while another resident said he was wounded in the shoot out at the site where just days ago a hand grenade was thrown at Ethiopian soldiers.

"The insurgents came with two vehicles and opened fire at government forces holding defenses outside a compound where the Ethiopian soldiers are staying," a government source said.

"The Ethiopians were inside. Fighting ensued. Heavy fire was exchanged, one anti-tank rocket was launched by the insurgents."

A taxi driver in the area said three trucks carrying Ethiopian soldiers were attacked first: "It was a very heavy exchange. I was forced to lie down to avoid being hit," he said.(More...)

Somalis suffer along tense border with Kenya

LIBOI, Kenya, Jan 8 (Reuters) - When Ethiopian soldiers confiscated Ga'an Towfiq's truck in Doble, a Somali town bordering Kenya, the 21-year-old made a dash for no-man's land.

It seemed a safer option than living under the control of the unpopular Ethiopian forces which routed rival Islamist fighters in a two-week war to protect the Somali government.

For 25 km (15 miles) Towfiq trekked through a desolate landscape of thorn bushes and muddy swamplands policed by Ethiopian troops in search of fugitive Islamists on one side and Kenyan soldiers seeking to block them on the other.

"Ethiopian soldiers were entering houses in Doble, taking mobile phones and radios," said Towfiq, who reached Liboi, a Kenyan border outpost, a few days ago after evading both Ethiopian and Kenyan troops.

"People are scared of the Ethiopians because they speak a different language. They are even using their own currency."

The bleating of a Somali herder's goat was once the only sound to be heard along the border.

Now it shakes with the clatter of machine guns, the drone of Ethiopian warplanes and the whirr of Kenyan helicopters scouring the area for Islamists who deserted their last stronghold a week ago, dispersing into the hills between the Indian Ocean port of Kismayu and Kenya.(More...)

Djibouti Urges Ethiopia to Pull Its Troops Out

Djibouti, a country in the Horn of Africa and a base for US task force, has revealed on Monday that it would never allow a long period presence of Ethiopian troops in its neighboring Somalia.

Mohamood Ali Yusuf, Djibouti's foreign minister, has told Asharqalawsat, an Arabic newspaper based in Britain, that the dire situation and the Ethiopian military presence in Somalia could escalate the tense state in the strife-torn country.

He said his government was concerned that the insecurity and instability in Somalia could spread into the entire Horn of Africa.(More...)

Ethiopian fighter jets bomb southern Somalia

Ethiopian fighter jets have reportedly air bombed the town of Afmadow in Lower Jubba region, southern Somalia.

Reports from Afmadow and Dhobley near the Kenyan border indicate that Ethiopian warplanes bombarded targets of Islamist suspects in the area. Remnants of Islamist fighters are still believed to linger in ahideous jungle in the district of Afmadow.

Damages of the explosions remain unclear.

Shabelle reporter Qorane in Dhobley said several contingents of government soldiers were brought in Dhobley for securing the town that lies closer to the Kenyan border.

The government said it seized a jungle base where Islamists hid in southern Somalia. The government also declared that Islamists were cornered and that large number Islamist fighters gave up themselves.(More...)

Ethiopia's intervention may radicalize moderate Muslims

MOGADISHU, SOMALIA — By launching a war against Somalia's Islamists, Ethiopia says it was drawing a line in the sand against religious extremism in East Africa. But without quick diplomacy and international aid, analysts caution that the war could radicalize the region's traditionally moderate Muslims.

"This could bode ill for both Somalia and eastern Ethiopia, but perhaps even northern Kenya," said John Prendergast, Africa analyst at International Crisis Group, a conflict-resolution think tank based in Washington.

Signs of a budding insurgency already are emerging in Mogadishu. Gunshots and riots rocked Somalia's capital on Saturday as Ethiopian troops clashed with Somalian protesters. A 13-year-old Somalian boy was killed. Anonymous pamphlets distributed in some neighborhoods warned locals to steer clear of Ethiopian and allied soldiers from Somalia's transitional government. The pamphlets pledged guerrilla tactics and suicide attacks. (More...)

Today's Top Stories

-US envoy in new Darfur peace push
-Khalilzad to U.N. ambassador post
-Bush to announce new Iraq plan Wednesday
-Pelosi: Dems won't give Bush blank war check
-Palestinian Gunmen Release Hamas Official
-Iran's supreme (Ayatollah) leader asserts pride in nuke achievements
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