Home | News    Friday 12 January 2007

Somali, Ethiopia forces skirmish with Islamists

separation
increase
decrease
separation
separation

Jan 11, 2007 (MOGADISHU) — Somali and Ethiopian forces skirmished with Islamic militiamen in southern Somalia Thursday, as U.S. troops on the ground hunted for al-Qaida suspects.

A senior U.S. official in the region said Thursday that U.S. and Ethiopian troops in southern Somalia were still pursuing three senior al-Qaida members believed responsible for bombing U.S. embassies in East Africa in 1998.

A day earlier, a Somali official, citing a U.S. intelligence report, had claimed one of the three was killed by a U.S. airstrike. But the U.S. official in Kenya, on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the record, said none of the three was killed in Monday’s strike. Somalis with close ties to al-Qaida were killed, the U.S. official said.

Earlier this week, police at the Kenyan coastal border town of Kiunga arrested the wives and several children of two of the embassy bombing suspects, according to an internal police report seen by The Associated Press Wednesday. The suspects’ relatives had slipped across the border, according to the report.

Ethiopian forces entered Somalia late last month when Ethiopians launched their attack against a Somali Islamic movement that had challenged the internationally recognized government for power here and was said to be sheltering al-Qaida figures.

Ethiopian helicopter and troop attacks were taking place around Dobley, a southern Somali town seven kilometers (four miles) from the Kenyan border, the Ethiopian Information Ministry said in a statement Thursday.

About 200 kilometers (120 miles) east, residents said they heard fighting in Ras Kamboni, where extremists with ties to al-Qaida were once believed to have operated a training camp. The remote, forested area has few residents and high frequency radio is the only reliable form of communication.

"We are hearing bombardment in Ras Kamboni. It started around 6 a.m. and the strike is now continuing," one resident said, asking not to be named for fear of retribution. "We can’t see planes, but we can hear heavy explosions."

Mosa Aden Hersi, who lives 25 kilometers (15 miles) from Ras Kamboni, said earlier fighting in the area had triggered a brush fire.

"We saw the dead bodies of 17 men in military uniform under a small hill, but we do not know their identity," he said.

A witnesses said he saw 60 Ethiopian tanks and other military vehicles headed toward El Ade, several hundred kilometers (miles) further east. Fighters loyal to the Islamic militia were seen retreating to the area last week local resident Hassan Hashi told the AP.

In Washington, officials said U.S. special operations forces were in Somalia hunting suspected al-Qaida fighters the Islamic movement was accused of harboring. Pentagon officials dismissed the idea they are planning to send large numbers of ground troops.

U.S. and Somali officials said Wednesday a small American team has been providing military advice to Ethiopian and Somali forces on the ground. The officials provided little detail and spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information.

The U.S. forces entered Somalia with Ethiopian forces late last month, one of the officials said.

Somali officials have said the U.S. had a right to strike, and one has even called on America to send in ground troops to help root out extremists.

The U.S. Navy has moved additional forces into waters off the Somali coast, where they have conducted security missions, monitoring maritime traffic and intercepting and interrogating crew on suspicious ships.

There were five ships Wednesday: the USS Ramage guided missile destroyer, the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower aircraft carrier, the USS Bunker Hill and USS Anzio guided missile cruisers, and the USS Ashland amphibious landing ship. Officials said they could use the Ashland as a brig for any captured suspects.

Ethiopia intervened after forces loyal to a fundamentalist group called the Council of Islamic Courts advanced on the only town the government controlled. Within 10 days the Ethiopians, joined by Somali troops, had pushed the Islamic fighters into a corner between the Kenyan border and the Indian Ocean.

"The fighting is near and around Ras Kamboni. This is the last hideout of the terrorists. It is small unit, mopping up operations that have not yet been completed," Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi told reporters in Ethiopia on Wednesday.

A Somali human rights group said Thursday that thousands of Somalis fleeing the fighting were now stranded on the Kenyan border.

"Thousands are in a bad condition and they do not have food and water. They are stranded at the border after Kenya closed it and they cannot go back to their houses for two reasons: the ongoing air strikes and lack of transportation," said Ali Bashi, chairman of the Fanole human rights group.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said more than 850 wounded people, both civilians and soldiers, have been treated at medical facilities since fighting started just over two weeks ago. In a statement it said it was deeply concerned about the plight of civilians and those captured by Ethiopian and government forces.

At U.N. headquarters in New York, U.N. Security Council on Wednesday backed the speedy deployment of African troops to Somalia and strongly supported a dialogue among all political players and humanitarian aid for the country.

Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, the current council president, told reporters after a closed-door meeting that members regard Somalia as "a high priority matter" and are concerned about instability, security, and the humanitarian situation.

Somalia has not had an effective central government since clan-based warlords toppled dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991 and then turned on each other. The interim government was established in 2004.

(AP)

Comments on the Sudan Tribune website must abide by the following rules. Contravention of these rules will lead to the user losing their Sudan Tribune account with immediate effect.

- No inciting violence
- No inappropriate or offensive language
- No racism, tribalism or sectarianism
- No inappropriate or derogatory remarks
- No deviation from the topic of the article
- No advertising, spamming or links
- No incomprehensible comments

Due to the unprecedented amount of racist and offensive language on the site, Sudan Tribune tries to vet all comments on the site.

There is now also a limit of 400 words per comment. If you want to express yourself in more detail than this allows, please e-mail your comment as an article to comment@sudantribune.com

Kind regards,

The Sudan Tribune editorial team.

Comment on this article



The following ads are provided by Google. SudanTribune has no authority on it.



Sudan Tribune

Promote your Page too

Latest Comments & Analysis


Why Sudanese should cautiously celebrate the political declaration? 2019-07-20 05:47:52 By Luka Biong Deng Kuol As Sudanese have every reason to celebrate the political declaration signed by the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) and Transitional Military Council (TMC), one may (...)

Change in Sudan requires consensus between civilian and armed forces 2019-07-20 05:47:42 By Mahmoud A. Suleiman Cleansing the Effects of the Systematic Demolition of the State of Sudan Over the past 30 years requires a minimum consensus agreement between the components of the (...)

Who can unlock the current impasse in Sudan? 2019-07-01 06:44:52 By Luka Biong Deng Kuol Since the eruption of the Sudanese popular uprising on 19th December 2018, the protesters have made history. Not only have they unseated one of the longest-serving (...)


MORE






Latest Press Releases


Sudanese lawyers and Human rights defenders back calls for civil rule 2019-04-26 10:22:06 Press statement by 55 Sudanese lawyers and Human rights defenders on Sudan Sit-in and Peaceful Protest Khartoum -24/04/2019 We, the undersigned (55) Sudanese lawyers and human rights defenders, (...)

South Sudan’s Lafon youth condemn killings of civilians by Pari community 2019-04-03 21:54:29 Press Statement on the Fighting between Pari/ Pacidi and Lotuko/Lokiri on 24/3/2019 Release by The Lafon County Youth Union: We, the Lafon County Youth Union hereby condemn the atrocities and (...)

Joseph Malwal Dong joined the SPLM/A -IO 2019-04-02 08:35:02 SPLM/A (IO) Press Release 1/4/2019 On Hon. Joseph Malwal Dong Joined the SPLM/A (IO) The leadership of the SPLM/A (IO) would like to seize this precious opportunity to announce to members and (...)


MORE

Copyright © 2003-2019 SudanTribune - All rights reserved.