Tuesday, January 09, 2007

American War Planes Bomb Somalia Massacring Scores of Civilians; Resistance to Occupation Continues

PANW Editor's Note: US air strikes on Somalia represents an escalation of the Bush administration's proxy war in the Horn of Africa. This is part and parcel of the so-called surge in aggressive military action from Iraq and Iran to Afghanistan and now Somalia. The Bush administration in its desperation has created unprecedented resistance to American foreign policy around the world. Most people view the US regime as the greatest threat to world peace. The notion that these massacres caused by the American air strikes are aimed at fighting terrorism is merely an excuse to further advance US interests in east Africa.

Tuesday January 9, 8:36 AM

US air strike against suspected Al-Qaeda members in Somalia: US media

The US military launched an air strike against members of the Al-Qaeda terrorist network in Somalia, but it is unclear whether the operation was a success, US media said.

"Sources say a lot of bodies were seen on the ground after the strike," CBS News said.

"The targets included the senior Al-Qaeda leader in East Africa and an Al-Qaeda operative wanted for his involvement in the 1998 bombings of two US embassies in Africa," in Kenya and Tanzania, CBS said.

The suspected terrorists were chased out of Mogadishu by US-backed troops and were tracked by US unmanned aerial drones, CBS said.

An AC 130 gunship, operated by the US Special Operations Command, flew from its base in Djibouti for the attack, CBS said.

NBC News said it was not clear whether the operation was a success.

The AC 130 gunship has machine guns capable of firing thousands of round per second.

Fresh clashes kill four in Somalia capital

Mon. January 08, 2007 07:20 am
Mohamed Abdi Farah

SomaliNet-- The death toll of the last night’s clashes in the Somalia capital Mogadishu has risen to four people and two civilians were injured as militiamen attacked Ethiopian and Somali convoys in southern of the city. Medical sources say on Monday.

Two of the dead people were reportedly the allied forces while others were civilians who were caught on the battle.

The skirmish happened near the Sahafi Hotel around KM4 junction in south of the capital where unidentified gunmen opened a Rocket Propel Grenade at the convoys but missed its target and the allied forces responded with gunfire.

15 minute gun battle raged in the area as both sides used heavy machine guns.

Witnesses told Somalinet that they could heard the sound of explosions and gunshots that terrified the residents.

This morning the situation resumed normal in the area the skirmish as people began to their daily job.

Although the Ethiopian troops are not so visible in the streets of Mogadishu, ambush attacks against them have mounted lately.

Somalia interim government condemned the attack as an act done by non-peace lovers.

“It is not to blame on the Islamists but I think it was all work by trouble makers who oppose the peace and security,” said Abdirahman Dinari, the government spokesman. “The government is very cautious and we don’t want to be quick to blame the Islamic Courts”,

Earlier, the Islamists leaders vowed to continue the fight against what they called ‘The Ethiopian invaders’ in the country telling their supporters to start hit and run attacks on the Ethiopian outposts until they leave the country.

Thousands of heavily armed Ethiopian troops backing the transitional government forces seized the capital on 24 December last year when Islamists fled the capital.

Tuesday January 9, 5:18 AM

Somali president in Mogadishu as government offers olive branch

Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed arrived in Mogadishu for the first time since becoming Somali president in 2004 as the government offered an olive branch to moderates from the ousted Islamists.

Yusuf was welcomed at the capital's main airport by Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi under heavy security nearly two weeks since an Islamist movement fled the lawless city of about a million people.

Officials said Yusuf and Gedi held talks in Villa Somalia, the presidential palace in south Mogadishu used by former president Mohamed Siad Barre until his fall in 1991, when the country was carved up among rival clan warlords.

Officials said that the government was ready to accommodate some Islamists, a move recommended Sunday by US top diplomat for Africa Jendayi Frazer when she met top Somali officials in Nairobi during a regional tour.

"Our policy is of reconciliation. Our doors are open and we shall welcome all Somali parties into the national administration," government spokesman Abdirahman Dinari told AFP.

"The Islamists are welcome as long they put down their arms, stop violence and indicate their willingness to join us in rebuilding our country," added Dinari, an indication the government was yielding to pressure from the United States and European Union.

"We will check the records, if one has ties with Al-Qaeda or other extremists, we will not offer amnesty," he said.

Over the weekend, Frazer met with Gedi as well as Somali parliament speaker Sherif Hassan Sheikh Aden, who was disavowed by the government when he sought negotiations with
the Islamists in November.

Frazer said Washington had already opened dialogue with some moderate Islamist officials on their participation in government.

EU nations have said the government should invite non-extremist Islamists into leadership as a condition for receiving further aid.

In Mogadishu, at least four people were killed in weekend violence after gunmen attacked a camp housing Ethiopian and Somali troops in the city and joint forces opened fire at an anti-Addis Ababa demonstration.

Analysts say the growing insecurity in Mogadishu is an indication of the government's limited ability to control a city that has changed hands several times in the past 16 years.

Joint Somali-Ethiopian forces last week evicted the Islamists from the southern port town of Kismayo, forcing them into scrublands along the border with Kenya.

Ethiopia has appealed for the urgent deployment of peacekeepers from other countries. Many Somalis regard Ethiopians as traditional enemies.

The African Union Peace and Security Council estimated that a peace mission of some 8,000 troops would need cost about 160 million dollars (123 million euros) over six months, Somalia's envoy to the AU, Abdulkarin Farah, said.

"There will be more consultation ... and decisions will be made then," Said Djinnit, the council's peace and security commissioner, told reporters after a meeting in Addis Ababa.

Uganda has pledged to provide a battalion. Other contributors may be from Rwanda, Tanzania, South Africa and Nigeria, said Kenya's Foreign Minister Raphael Tuju, who stressed Monday that nations outside the region could participate.

Western nations had warned that the Islamists strength risked transforming Somalia into a full-blown haven and training ground for Islamic extremists.

In Kenya, officials hinted that country could open up the border with Somalia, which was closed last Wednesday, to allow some refugees stuck at the frontier without supplies, to cross over.

"This is an urgent issue and I think sometimes this week, the government will have to meet and sort this issue ... We need to sort out this so that the needy ones can be allowed to come into the country," Special Programme Minister John Munyes told independent NTV while visiting the border region.

Nairobi crossed its border last week, to bar fleeing Islamists from fleeing, thereby blocking thousands of Somali refugees, drawing a harsh reaction from the UN refugee agency.

22:20 MECCA TIME, 19:20 GMT

Somali president rules out dialogue

Somali government forces have begun to patrol the once lawless city of Mogadishu [Reuters]

The president of the transitional Somali government has ruled out negotiations with the Council of Islamic Courts, now besieged in the country's southern tip.

Abdullahi Yusuf entered Mogadishu, the capital, on Monday for the first time since taking office in 2004, protected by his soldiers and Ethiopian troops who helped rout the Islamic courts.

"With regard to holding talks with the courts, this will not happen," Yusuf told Al Jazeera in an interview before flying to Mogadishu.

"We will crack down on the terrorists in any place around the nation."

Yusuf said that Somalis who hate the presence of Ethiopian troops on their soil are in the minority.

He said: "We are a legitimate government which requested the help of Ethiopian troops so we could achieve security and stability in Somalia.

"We are working so alternative troops can replace the Ethiopians such as African troops. And if Arab states want to send troops, we have no objection."

Yusuf also told Al Jazeera that his country needs the peacekeepers to back up the Somali army now stationed all over the country to quell violence.

Mop-up campaign

Even as the Somali president spoke, Ethiopian jets and soldiers attacked the remnants of the Islamic courts, part of a campaign to finish off the hard core of the militia who have vowed to fight on.

Hassan Mursal, a local resident, told Reuters: "The warplanes this morning struck at a location 18km from Afmadow where Islamic troops are hiding. So many Ethiopian and government troops driving dozens of military trucks passed there today."

Earlier on Monday, government and Ethiopian forces captured what they said was a jungle base used by the militia in southern Somalia.

A government military commander said later that Ras Kamboni was taken after a two-day campaign using ground forces and air support.

Mohammed Adow, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Somalia, said: "Taking over Ras Kamboni denies Islamist fighters a base from which to launch their guerrilla attacks.

"It leaves them sandwiched between the US forces patrolling the coast and Kenyan forces stationed at the border."


Yusuf's entry into Mogadishu marked a remarkable turnaround in the Somali capital that the Islamic courts ruled for six months until the end of December.

"The president has arrived. He is now in Villa Somalia," Abdirahman Dinari, the government spokesman, said.

The bullet-scarred Villa Somalia compound is the former palace of Mohamed Siad Barre, whose overthrow in 1991 as Somalia's last national president triggered more than 15 years of anarchy.

The UN-recognised transitional authorities had been unable to install itself in Mogadishu first because of local commanders in the government who opposed giving up their turf, and later because of the Islamic courts.

Adow said: "There are many government soldiers on the streets [of Mogadishu], but underneath it looks as though no one is in charge."

Alternative force

The Ethiopians have said they want to pull out of Somalia in a matter of weeks, while an African peacekeeping force is being assembled to fill the anticipated vacuum in security, which the Somali transitional government admits it cannot handle on its own.

In Addis Ababa, the Peace and Security Council of the African Union (AU) agreed to increase the number of troops to be deployed to Somalia from a proposed 8,000-strong deployment.

An official said on Monday the AU would meet again to decide on how many.

"The security council underlined the need for an urgent deployment of peace support mission to Somalia," Said Djinnit, the AU's peace and security commissioner, said.

Political process

Djinnit said: "The council also stressed the need for an all-inclusive political process as called for in [the Somalia] charter."

He said the meeting had called on other countries to fund the peace mission.

Abdikarim Farah, Somalia's ambassador to the AU, said the deployment of peacekeepers would require $150m for the first six months.

The US said on Friday that it was contributing $16m and the European Union has said it would also contribute.

Louis Michel, the EU aid commissioner, said in Brussels: "But first of all we want to know which kind, which troops, how many people, which mandate, and so on."

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies

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