Monday, March 31, 2008

Somali News Bulletin: Guerrillas Seize Central Town; Occupationists Killed in Capital; No Ethiopian Troops in Puntland

Islamists seize central Somali town

Mogadishu, Somalia
31 March 2008 03:27

Somali Islamists on Monday took control of a central town after clashes with government forces that left 11 people dead, residents and Islamists said.

The Islamists wrested control of Buulo Burte town, 206km north of the capital, Mogadishu, they said.

"The Islamist forces were jumping while chanting "Allahu Akbar" after they took full control of the town. We do not know where the government soldiers fled to," said Abdikadir Ahmed, a resident.

Local elders said at least 11 people were killed in the fighting in the town in Somalia's Hiraan region.

"There are eight dead bodies lying in the streets now -- seven of them are Somali soldiers and one is a civilian. Three other civilians were killed outside town," said Ismail Mohamed Nur, an elder.

"There was fierce fighting between the soldiers and the Islamists. It erupted in the morning and appears to have subsided," said Ali Haji Ares, another resident.

He said Hiraan governor Yusuf Mohamed, who was commanding the government forces, fled the area.

"By the will of Allah, our fighters took control of Buulo Barte town and the enemies of Allah fled the town and we are still chasing them," Abdirahim Sheikh Adde, a spokesperson for the Islamists, said.

On Wednesday last week, Islamists fighters briefly took control of Jowhar township, 90km north of Mogadishu, looted government vehicles and offices and released prisoners lodged in jail.

Over the past year, Mogadishu and its outlying outposts have been hit by almost daily violence pitting Ethiopian-backed Somali forces against Islamist insurgents.

The guerrilla fighting has killed hundreds of civilians and forced tens of thousands to flee.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees recently said relentless violence in Somalia had forced at least 15 000 people to flee to neighbouring states since the start of the year.

About 8 000 have entered Kenya, 4 000 went to Ethiopia, 2 000 fled to Djibouti and 1 300 made their way into Sudan, it said in a statement.

Somalia has lacked an effective government since the 1991 ouster of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre paved the way for factional clashes that have defied numerous bids to restore stability. -- AFP

Somalia: Nine Ethiopians killed in explosion in Mogadishu

Sun. March 30, 2008 10:57 am.
By Bonny Apunyu

(SomaliNet) A massive explosion has destroyed an Ethiopian military convoy in South Mogadishu, killing at least nine soldiers and wounding many others.

A Press TV correspondent reported from South Mogadishu that the blast was triggered by a remote controlled device as the Ethiopian convoy passed along the Florenza Street, which connects the Presidential Palace, or Villa Somalia, with district of Hararyale,

Eyewitnesses said also said a military vehicle was completely destroyed in the explosion, adding that at least nine Ethiopian soldiers were killed at the scene.

After the incident the soldiers opened fire on civilians present in the area.

Somalia: 26 people killed in renewed attacks in Mogadishu

Sun. March 30, 2008 10:45 am.
By Bonny Apunyu

(SomaliNet)At least 26 people have been killed and 68 others injured in renewed attacks by Ethiopian and Somali troops have in a Mogadishu market.

The chairman of the Bakara business community, Hagi Ali Mohamed Siyad, known as Ali Dheere, confirmed that many civilians were killed or injured in the course of fresh attacks staged by Somali forces stationed in the Presidential palace in collaboration with Ethiopian soldiers in their embassy near the palace, a Press TV's correspondent said Sunday.

Meanwhile, Somali Prime Minister Nur Hussein and Ethiopian officials had signed an agreement earlier not to target Bakara market, which is a non-military zone, Ali Dheere said, exclaiming that the market had been targeted again.

Injured civilians, most of them women, were transferred to nearby hospitals. The majority are reportedly in critical conditions.

In the meantime, the governors of the Lower Shabelle region and Hiiran have undertaken a joint operation to target rebels' hideout in the Hiiran district, setting fire to a number of houses in an unprecedented move, the report detailed.

The Ethiopian-backed transitional government rolled into the Somali capital in January 2007, unleashing an insurgency that has displaced more than 600,000 people in what the United Nations calls the world's worst and most neglected humanitarian crisis.

Somalia has had no effective central rule since the 1991 ousting of Dictator Mohammed Siad Barre, which plunged the country on the Horn of Africa into lawlessness and insecurity. Press TV online

Puntland: No Ethiopian soldiers in Puntland, says president Mohamud

Mon. March 31, 2008 09:06 am.
By Bonny Apunyu

(SomaliNet) President Mohamud "Adde" Muse of Somalia's semiautonomous state of Puntland has denied growing speculation that Ethiopian soldiers might be deployed in the relatively stable territory.

According to reports, the Puntland leader spoke with reporters in the port city of Bossaso Sunday before he flew to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, for talks with Ethiopian government officials.He was accompanied by Security Minister Abdullahi Said Samatar, army commander Ali Badiye and intelligence chief Osman "Diana" Abdullahi.

Mr. Mohamud said his trip to Addis Ababa is linked to strengthening economic and security relations with Ethiopia.

President Muse dismissed reports that Ethiopian soldiers might be deployed in the region to protect the investments of foreign companies intending to explore for oil in Puntland.

A military delegation from Ethiopia was in the Puntland capital of Garowe earlier this month, where they held private meetings with oil company representatives and Puntland government officials.

Thousands of Ethiopian troops are deployed in central and southern Somalia, where they are frequently targeted in guerrilla attacks by Islamist rebels.- Allafrica

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