Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Somali News Bulletin: Resistance Escalates Against US-backed Occupationists Forces

Somali insurgency escalates, 15 civilians die

Wed Sep 24, 2008 12:40pm BST
By Abdi Sheikh and Abdi Mohamed

MOGADISHU, Sept 24 (Reuters) - Islamists attacked African peacekeepers in Mogadishu, sparking a battle that killed 11 civilians and sent many fleeing the city in Somalia's escalating insurgency, witnesses said on Wednesday.

"We have no hope now and I think this is the end of Mogadishu," mother-of-seven Fatuma Kassim said, joining a stream of residents escaping the coastal capital after shells and gunfire rocked the city on Tuesday night.

In Baidoa, capital of Somalia's parliament, four people died on Wednesday when a bomb exploded in a donkey-cart, police said.

In a bloody month even by Somalia's extreme standards, insurgents have increasingly turned their fire on African Union (AU) troops. Analysts view that as a tactic to prevent more foreign intervention in a nation in civil conflict since 1991.

On Tuesday night, insurgents shelled an AU base from various sides, prompting heavy return fire and tank incursions into a market area viewed as a rebel stronghold.

The AU, whose 2,200 Ugandan and Burundian peacekeepers have done little to quell the war, said it suffered no casualties.

The pan-African body wants to hand over to the United Nations, but that organisation is wary of entering a quagmire some are calling "Africa's Iraq", especially given its disastrous attempt to impose peace there in the early 1990s.

"The insurgents have decided to hit the AU hard to intimidate Africa from sending any more soldiers and to make the likelihood of U.N. intervention even more remote," said a Western diplomat who tracks Somalia.


Once again, it was Mogadishu residents counting their dead on Wednesday. Since the insurgency began at the start of 2007, nearly 10,000 civilians have died.

"A big shell killed five people after it landed on them as they ran to take cover," witness Osman Farah said.

"We have just collected their corpses."

Another resident, Aden Ismail, said a missile landed on a group of refugees in a ruined former college, killing two.

"Then another mortar dropped and injured seven others. We could not take them to hospital because there was gunfire everywhere," he said.

Islamist spokesman Abdirahim Isse Adow said Tuesday's attack was retribution for the shelling of a market earlier in the week, which he blamed on the peacekeepers. Thirty civilians died in Bakara market on Monday, with all sides blaming each other.

"It is clear that the Islamists are about to take control of the country. The government and Ethiopian troops control only a small portion of the city let alone the country," he said.

Drought and high food prices have compounded the effect of the conflict on a traumatised population, one million of whom live as internal refugees. With attacks on aid workers common, relief agencies face a dangerous task to help Somalis.

A U.S. expert on Somalia, John Prendergast, said the insurgents now view outside players -- from the African Union to relief groups -- as helping the government.

"They look at most of these external actors as probably sympathetic to the TFG (Transitional Federal Government) or at least facilitating the TFG's goals, so shutting out as many of these people as possible, whether NGO or U.N. actors, will only help the Islamists," he said.

(Additional reporting by Mohamed Ahmed in Baidoa, Andrew Cawthorne in Nairobi; Writing by Andrew Cawthorne and Wangui Kanina)

SOMALIA: Mogadishu rocked by “worst shelling yet”

Mogadishu has experienced the worst fighting in a long time, according to locals, as government troops take on insurgents

NAIROBI, 23 September 2008 (IRIN) - At least 100 people were killed and thousands fled their homes in the “worst fighting” to hit Mogadishu in recent months, locals told IRIN.

The fighting on 22 September pitted Ethiopian troops, African Union peacekeeping troops (AMISOM) and Transitional Federal Government (TFG) forces against insurgents. More than 200 people were reportedly wounded, hospital sources said.

"We are still today [23 September] collecting bodies and body parts from the market and the area around it," Ali Mohamed Siad, chairman of the Bakara market traders, told IRIN. "Blood and body parts are everywhere."

The fighting was concentrated around the large market - which has in the past been the scene of fierce fighting between Ethiopian-backed government forces and insurgents.

"The market and the surrounding neighbourhoods experienced the worst shelling yet," Siad added.

He said the shelling by Ethiopian, AMISOM and TFG forces began when the market was full of shoppers getting ready for the Eid festivities, to mark the end of Ramadan next week.

Up to 82 people have so far been confirmed dead and 157 injured in the market area alone, Siad added. The market was now closed.

Ali Sheikh Yassin, acting chairman of the Mogadishu-based Elman Human Rights Organisation, told IRIN the market had been shelled from three different directions. "It was obvious the market was deliberately targeted," he said.

The shelling began after Islamic insurgents launched simultaneous attacks on the two main AMISOM bases at K4 and the airport, said a local journalist.

But AMISOM spokesman Barigye Bahoko told IRIN the AU peacekeepers were not involved in the shelling. "We are absolutely not responsible for the shelling," he said. "Responsibility should be on those who attack our defensive positions."

Local sources said the fighting and shelling were mostly concentrated in the districts of Hodan and Hawl Wadag in south Mogadishu.

Many families are still trying to get out, while others have begun burying the dead and taking the injured to hospital.

A medical source told IRIN the two main hospitals, Madina in the south and Keysaney in the north, were seeing more injured than at any time in the recent past.

"As of last night 195 injured were brought to Madina and about 30 to Keysaney," the source said. Roughly 46 people died in the hospitals, "but that is only those who made it to hospitals".

Meanwhile, talks to end the conflict, which have going on in Djibouti between representatives of the government and a faction of an Eritrea-based opposition alliance, the Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia, led by Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, again failed to agree a ceasefire.

"The main stumbling block is the withdrawal of Ethiopian forces,” said a civil society activist at the talks.

He said the TFG seemed to be trying to find a way for a less hurried withdrawal, while the Alliance was insisting on a 30-day withdrawal.

The parties agreed to resume talks in 15 days to hammer out a ceasefire agreement.

Report can be found online at:

This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the Pan-African News Wire

No comments: