Monday, June 08, 2009

Somalia New Update: 123 Killed in Battle; Hizbul Islam Denies Aweys Injury or Death

Somali battle kills 123, rebels deny leader Aweys dead

Abdi Sheikh
Sun, Jun 7 08:36 AM

Battles between rival Islamist groups in central Somalia have killed 123 people, a rights group said on Saturday, and a pro-government militia said militant rebel leader Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys had died in the fighting.

Aweys' militia denied that as propaganda.

Witnesses said scores of bodies lay in the streets of Wabho town after fighters from the hardline al Shabaab and Hizbul Islam groups battled moderate Islamist group Ahla Sunna Waljamaca for control. Most of the deaths were on Friday.

The local Elman Peace and Human Rights Organisation said it had confirmed 123 fighters killed in one of the worst flare-ups of the year in the conflict-riven Horn of Africa nation.

An Islamist insurgency that broke out in early 2007 -- the latest in 19 years of conflict in Somalia -- has killed around 18,000 civilians and thousands more fighters.

It has also drawn foreign jihadists into Somalia, enabled piracy to flourish offshore, and unsettled the whole region, putting East African neighbours on high security alert.

In Mogadishu, al Shabaab have been battling the security forces of President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed. In the central region, pro- and anti-government Islamist militia have been fighting all year, with towns changing hands regularly.


Among the dead in Wabho, according to pro-government Alha Sunna, was Hizbul Islam leader Aweys, a 62-year-old cleric and hardliner whom the United States and United Nations have accused of links to al Qaeda. The group said he died of gunshot wounds.

"Hassan Dahir died in El Bur," Alha Sunna spokesman Sheikh Abdullahi Sheikh Abu Yusuf told Reuters, referring to a nearby town with a hospital.

"We seriously injured him yesterday. This is good news."

If confirmed, Aweys' death would be a major blow to the rebels and a boost for Ahmed's government, which had tried unsuccessfully to broker peace talks with the cleric.

But Hizbul Islam spokesman Sheikh Musa Arale denied the report of Aweys' death.

"Sheikh Hassan is alive and unharmed," he told Reuters. "That is the propaganda of our enemies whose commanders and leaders we killed yesterday."

Some residents of Wabho and a Hizbul Islam fighter said Aweys was injured and taken to hospital in El Bur.

"I understand Sheikh Hassan was hit by bullets in the back and thighs," the fighter, who asked not to be named, told Reuters. "He may be serious but I have not heard of his death."

Neither side controlled Wabho on Saturday, locals said, but the battles had halted for them to collect and bury corpses.

The violence is swelling Somalia's more than 1 million internal refugee population. Aid agencies say 3 million people need urgent food aid in one of the world's worst -- and most neglected -- humanitarian crises.

Shabelle director killed and reporter wounded in Mogadishu

Posted: 6/7/2009 5:38:00 PM
Shabelle: SOMALIA

MOGADISHU(Sh. M. Network)—Mukhtar Mohamed Hirabe, the director of Shabelle Media Network has been killed and Shabelle’s head of programs Ahmed Omar Hashi(Tajir) has been injured in Bakaro market in Mogadishu on Sunday.

Witness said three armed gangs have killed the director and wounded Ahmed Tajir. It is not known why he was targeted, but he survived an assassination attempt in Bakaro market in Mogadishu on 4 February in 2009 when gunmen killed Said Tahliil Ahmed, the director of Horn Afrik radio in the same market.

Ahmed Tajir was injured in the stomach and in the hand and he has been taken to a hospital in Mogadishu.

Bakaro market in Mogadishu has been the butcher of reporters and other prominent people for the last two years.

Two reporters from Shabelle Media Network were killed in 2009. Abdirisak Warsame Mohamed was killed in Mogadishu on 22 of May 2009 and Hassan Mayow Hassan was killed in Afgoye town on 1 January 2009.

Ethiopia admits reconnaisance missions in Somalia

Posted: 6/5/2009 10:38:00 PM
Shabelle: SOMALIA

ADDIS ABABA (Sh. M. Network) — Ethiopia has undertaken military reconnaisance operations in violence-wracked nearby Somalia, but is not planning to re-deploy, a government spokesman said on Thursday.

"We have no plans to go back to Somalia... (but) there are reconnaisance missions," Information Minister Bereket Simon told reporters.

Ethiopian troops rolled into Somalia in late 2006 to buttress an embattled transitional government against radical Islamist insurgents.

But it has repeatedly rejected accusations from local Somalis that it crossed back into the country last month in the wake of renewed fighting which has killed more than 200 people in one month.

"We haven't entered Somalia. But when there is a threat you can send scouts, and reconnaissance missions. That is normal," Bereket said without giving details.

This is the first time the authorities in Addis Ababa acknowledge the existence of military activities in Somalia since its troops pulled out at the start of the year.

Witnesses have in recent weeks reported seeing Ethiopian troops inside Somalia, mainly around Beledweyne, a regional capital located near the border.

"We stood by on our borders following closely the situation," added Bereket.

Ethiopia's entry into Somalia in 2006 was backed by an six-country regional bloc under the aegis of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and with the backing of the African Union. (AFP)

Explosion targets AMISOM convoy in Mogadishu

Posted: 6/5/2009 1:36:00 PM
Shabelle: SOMALIA

MOGADISHU (Sh. M. Network) –A land mine explosion was targeted at the African Union troops AMISOM convoy traveling between Aden Adde international airport and Km4 intersection in the Somali capital Mogadishu, witnesses told Shabelle radio on Friday.

Reports say that the explosion was a remote controlled landmine aimed at the African Union peace keepers who were traveling near the UNDP centre near Aden Adde international airport in the capital.

AMISOM troops halted the movement of the people and traffic between the airport and Km4 intersection in Mogadishu after the explosion.

The real number of casualty from the explosion is unclear and there is no comment about the explosion from the African Peace keepers AMISOM in Mogadishu.

The explosion is part of series of attacks targeting the African Union troops in the Somali capital Mogadishu.

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