Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Soldiers Bodies Burned In Streets Of Mogadishu

Insurgency Erupts In Somalia

As widely predicted, the American backed removal by Ethiopia military forces of the Islamic Courts from Mogadishu has resulted in Somalia returning to outbreaks of shocking violence, as a fresh insurgency starts to sweep through the capital, Mogadishu.

More than 40 people have died in clashes so far between military and insurgency forces.

Hundreds of families have fled the violence in Mogadishu. Two soldiers were dragged through the streets of the capital and their corpses torched in front of reporters, in scenes reminiscent of the 'Black Hawk Down' slaughter of American special forces in the mid-1993.

Somali government officials claim they have been under constant attack from Islamist insurgents since they took back control of Mogadishu in December last year from the Islamic Courts movement. Islamists claim, however, that the attacks are mostly coming from civilians who don't want the old government back in power, believing they are puppets of the United States and Ethiopian governments.

From GaroweOnline :

The fighting erupted in Shirkole, south of the city, when government forces tried to extend their control over the area, said an eyewitness.

"They [government forces] came less than an hour after morning prayers [5am]. As soon as they tried to move into the area they met stiff resistance [from residents]," he said. Government forces were pushed back, towards the former defence ministry headquarters, where Ethiopian troops are based, he said, adding that residents were "quickly joined by courts militias [remnants of the Union of Islamic Courts]".

The government said it was carrying out a security operation to collect illegal weapons from the residents.

A doctor, who confirmed the number of the dead, said almost 60 percent of those killed and injured were women and children.

A local journalist, who declined to be named, said the latest fighting was heaviest since the Transitional Federal Government took over the city in late December 2006. "It is no longer a hit-and-run thing but two groups of fighters facing each other," he added.

The Somali insurgents are fighting against a combined military force of Ethiopian and Somali government forces :

Hundreds of resistance fighters used rockets, mortars and light weapons to defend their turf against government expansion.

Government troops, backed by Ethiopian tanks and armor, positioned deep within insurgent strongholds overnight Tuesday, sparking the deadly clashes of the next morning, residents said.

Mobs of angry locals and insurgent fighters dragged the dead bodies of government soldiers through the streets and set them ablaze, reviving images from the unsuccessful U.S.-led United Nations peacekeeping mission in the mid-90s.

The fighting continued late into the afternoon, spreading into new areas and forcing hundreds of families to flee their homes.

It was the fiercest single day of battles since Somalia�s transitional government arrived in Mogadishu late last year.

Before then, Mogadishu and much of south-central Somalia was under the helm of the Islamic Courts authority, an Islamist group often credited for returning law and order during their six-month rule.

The government says Islamist rebels are responsible for nonstop attacks against its personnel and allies.

But the Islamists� former legislative chief, Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, told the BBC that the resistance in Mogadishu was fueled by locals who did not wish to be under foreign military

From the New York Times :
Ethiopian troops and the soldiers of Somalia’s transitional government (are) both reviled by many people in Mogadishu, Somalia’s chaotic capital. Residents are now beginning to fear that this transitional government is headed in the same direction as the 13 transitional governments that came before it — into a vortex of clan violence and anarchy that has made Somalia an icon of a failed state.

At dawn on Wednesday, Ethiopian and government soldiers stormed into a neighborhood in southern Mogadishu to disarm gunmen there. Instead, witnesses said, they were greeted by dozens of masked insurgents who blasted them with rocket-propelled grenades.

More than 15 people were killed, including several government soldiers and possibly two Ethiopians.

The neighborhood is home to several clans that feel alienated by the transitional government and was a stronghold of the Islamist movement that took over the city and much of south-central Somalia last year, before being defeated by Ethiopian and government soldiers in December.

Somalia was not supposed to be like this anymore. Over the past several months, Ethiopia, the United States, the United Nations and the African Union have invested more hope and resources in the country than at any time since the failed peacekeeping mission of the early 1990s.

Heavy Fighting Between Somali Troops And Insurgents

Somali Clan Leaders Home Attacked

Savagery In Somalia - Soldiers Killed, Torched In Street

African Union Commander In Somalia Pleads For More Troops

Islamist Chief Claims Somali Government Leaders Working For Ethiopia

December 2006 : Ethiopian Prime Minister Declares War On Somali Islamists

January, 2007 : Third Day Of US Air Strikes Inside Somalia Leaves Dozens Dead