Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Somali Update: Reconciliation Conference Set to Restart; US-backed Occupationists Deny Atrocities, etc.

Somali reconciliation conference hits one-month mark

Aug 15, 2007, 10:35 GMT

Mogadishu/Nairobi - A European Union-backed reconciliation conference seen as the last best chance to bring some peace to anarchic Somalia was postponed Wednesday, as the unity meet hit the one-month mark.

The conference, which several key opposition groups are boycotting, is set to restart Saturday after being adjourned last Wednesday.

The Hawiye clan, Mogadishu's largest, has split over attending the conference and the different factions are set to hold negotiations during the recess to come to a common position, Somali news agency Shabelle reported.

The start of the conference on July 15 was interrupted by mortar shelling, part of a continuing Iraq-style insurgency against the transitional government that has seen more than 1,000 people killed in months of violence.

The meeting was expected to last 45 days, but with so many adjournments and postponements, it may be extended.

Somalia has been without effective rule since the 1991 ouster of dictator Mohammed Siad Barre, which swept the country into anarchy.

Deutsche Presse-Agentur

Ministry Denies Human Rights Report Soldiers Carried Out Bus Attack

Daily Monitor (Addis Ababa)
15 August 2007
Addis Ababa

The Ministry of Information on Tuesday dismissed as baseless a human rights report that Ethiopian soldiers fired on a bus full of civilians, "killing 10 people and wounding several" others.

"This is a baseless accusation, as usual," Ethiopian Information Ministry spokesman Zemedhun Tekle told Reuters in Addis Ababa.

"We would never open fire on civilians like this." The local human rights group report which also accused the insurgents said heavy fighting between Somali government forces backed by Ethiopian troops and insurgents in Mogadishu has killed at least 31 Somalis and wounded 60 in the past 24 hours.

"The killings were from gunshots and explosions in different parts of the city," head of Elman Human Rights Group, Sudani Ali Ahmed was quoted as saying.

Earlier on Monday, Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi expressed anger over a Human Rights Watch (HRW) which alleged his troops and their Ethiopian allies were responsible -- together with insurgents -- for widespread crimes against Mogadishu residents during this year's fighting.

"I completely reject what they've said," he said.

"Themselves, they abuse governments," Gedi added, arguing that HRW had wilfully ignored any positive aspects of his government's record like an ongoing peace conference, the set-up of local administrations, and aid to refugees.

They had also ignored crimes by the Islamic Courts during their rule of Mogadishu, including killing and displacing people, destroying property, denying women's rights, using child soldiers, and banning cinema and sports-viewing, he said.

"It seems that the Human Rights Watch or groups are in line with opportunistic people who ... want to keep Somalia in a vacuum, to be a safe haven for terrorist activities." Gedi added, however, that conflict was messy.

"Everywhere in the world where fighting takes place, some disorders can take place. ... Sometimes you instruct forces and they can do something else, but immediately it is our position and our responsibility to correct any mistakes that take place." Hundreds have been killed by mortar and rocket attacks and firefights in Mogadishu since Somalia's Ethiopian-backed interim government ousted Islamist fighters in December, sparking an insurgency that has forced hundreds of thousands to flee.

More than 600,000 hungry in Somali "bread basket"

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

NAIROBI (Reuters) - More than 600,000 people in war-ravaged southern Somalia are suffering from severe malnutrition in a part of country that used to be considered its "bread basket," according to an aid agency report.

The Food Security Analysis Unit, which groups several relief agencies, published an assessment of nutrition in Somalia's Lower and Middle Shabelle region late on Monday.

"Nutrition ... has deteriorated dramatically since March in the ... region, (which is) generally the most resilient and the bread basket of the country," the report said.

This was partly owing to poor rains, and partly to disruptions in trade caused by a conflict that has killed hundreds since the Ethiopia-backed interim government ousted Islamists from Mogadishu in December, sparking an insurgency.

The report estimated inflation in the past three months to be roughly 40 to 60 percent.

"All of these shocks in a short period of time have resulted in a sudden-onset humanitarian emergency with high rates of acute and severe malnutrition affecting more than 600,000 people," it said.

The Horn of Africa country, which has had no functioning government since the fall of Siad Barre's regime in 1991, has suffered an upsurge in clashes in past days.

Hundreds of thousands have fled their homes since the insurgency started.

"The number of people in need of assistance has increased to 1.5 million. Of this ... 295,000 require life-saving interventions," the report said.

Somalia: Mogadishu insurgency intensifies as civilian casualty increases

Tue. August 14, 2007 04:17 pm.
By Mohamed Abdi Farah

(SomaliNet) Three people were wounded in a grenade explosion which occurred in Mogadishu’s biggest Bakara market on Tuesday – as insurgency violence escalates in the city day by day.

Witnesses told Somalinet that a local militant carried out the attack around 12:00pm aiming to kill three soldiers who were walking inside the market. The explosion wounded three vendors who were selling wrist watches.

No casualty was reported on the soldiers who opened fire after the incident. The security forces rushed to area and sealed off all roads to investigate who was behind the attack.

All shops around the scene of the explosion were closed.

Meanwhile, eight people have died from wounds in Medina hospital, south of the Somalia capital Mogadishu in the past 12 hours, medical sources said.

These deceased were among 23 people who have been injured in yesterday’s shootout when the Ethiopian forces opened indiscriminate fire on travelers’ bus in north of the capital. The bus that covered by blood was heading the central Somalia regions.

The shootout came when an explosion happened near Ethiopian soldiers who were taking water from a well in the area.

The latest death toll brings 19 to the civilians killed in Mogadishu yesterday alone as more than 30 others were wounded.

The government did not yet give comment about the civilian casualty resulted from the bullets sprayed by the alleged Ethiopian forces.

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