Sunday, April 01, 2007

Somalia : Mortars Rain Down On Mogadishu

Hundreds Killed And Wounded, Thousands Flee Their Homes

Ethiopian Troops Flee Bases As Helicopter Is Brought Down

A wave of brutal fighting between the Islamist insurgency and the combined forces of the Somali and Ethiopian governments has erupted in Mogadishu and is breaking out across Somalia.

Mortars and rockets have been raining down on the capital, thousands of civilians are fleeing their homes and hundreds have been killed and wounded in four vicious days of fighting.

The United States, via its special forces operations and CIA operatives, backed Ethiopia's push late last year to drive out the Islamic Courts council from Mogadishu. Somalis had clearly been enjoying too much peace and stability since the insidiously corrupt US-backed Somali government had been overthrown by the Islamic Courts in mid-2006.

Military analysts and a number of world leaders warned the US and Ethiopia that their actions would see a revival of the Islamic insurgency in Somalia, which could threaten the stability of Ethiopia's borders, as well as causing more untold misery for the civilians of Mogadishu.

Those warnings have all come true. Mogadishu is slipping back into a living hell of fighting and savagery, and the Islamic insurgency is resisting Ethiopia's attacks with the backing of most Somalis.

Bad news for Ethiopia and the US. The countless battles of Baghdad have proved it is all but impossible to wipe out an insurgency when it has the backing and support of a majority of the locals. Unless a truce or peace deal is worked out between the Islamic Courts and the Somali and Ethiopian governments, the conflict is expected to grow and threaten the stability of the greater region.

From Reuters :

The International Committee of the Red Cross said the clashes were the worst seen in Mogadishu for more than 15 years.

"We are now being shelled heavily," said one resident of the Tawfiq neighbourhood. "The mortars are being fired from south Mogadishu. People are very scared."

On Thursday Ethiopian troops backed by tanks and helicopter gunships began the assault to crush remnants of a hardline Islamist movement and clan militia fighting alongside them.

But civilians have been the main victims. Hospitals have been overwhelmed, even though most of the wounded have been unable to seek any kind of help because of the continuing battles. Doctors were trapped in their homes.

Ethiopia says its military has killed more than 200 "armed remnants" of a group fighting for the Union of Islamic Courts, ousted from the city over the new year.

As the fighting intensified, insurgents shot down an Ethiopian gunship with a missile. Mobs dragged some dead Ethiopian soldiers through the streets. Thousands of people have fled the city.

From the London Times :

An outraged Somali working for the United Nations accused the Ethiopians, who have used tanks and helicopter gunships to pound rebel positions, of committing “war crimes”.

“They are firing heavy artillery into residential areas . . . innocent people who have nothing to do with these insurgents, let alone Islamists, are being slaughtered. Where are all those human rights groups who go on about Mugabe now; this is ethnic cleansing dressed up as a war on terror,” he told The Times.

Estimates of the number of people killed vary widely. Some now put the death toll as high as 150, but with most of the Indian Ocean port city a “no-go” area it is impossible to verify. Hospitals across the city are overflowing with wounded. Residents say that they represent only a fraction of the casualties.

Somalia Suffers Through Worst Violence In 15 Years - Somalia Feared To Be Going The Way Of Afghanistan And Iraq - 'War On Terror' Blamed

Islamic Insurgency Picks Up Their Guns Again As Ethiopian Troops Try To Disarm The Locals

Somali Clan Leaders Ask UN, EU, US, Arab League To Demand Ethiopian Forces To Stop The Slaughter

Ethiopian Military Reinforcements Flood In To Close Down The Capital

8000 African Union Forces Back Up Somali Government Military - Ugandan Soldier Killed In Fighting

Ethiopian Military Helicopter Shot Down By Insurgents

Ethiopian Soldiers Reported To Be Abandoning Military Compounds On Outskirts Of Mogadishu

Mogadishu : Hospitals Swamped By The Dying And The Dead