December 22, 2006

Heavy fighting rocks Somalia

Heavy fighting rocks Somalia
Thursday, 21 Dec 2006 22:48

Current fighting is concentrated in the south-east of Somalia
Somalia is suffering the worst fighting seen so far this year as Islamist forces battle the Ethiopian-backed transitional government in the country's southern region.
The Union of Islamic Courts (UIC), which controls most but not all of the eastern African state, attacked government troops between the Somalian capital of Mogadishu and the transitional government's only major town, Baidoa on Tuesday.
Since then the two sides have claimed approximately 100 fatalities each in the fighting, which is occurring in an area roughly 60 miles south-east of Baidoa."All Somalis should take part in this struggle against Ethiopia," a leader of the UIC said earlier today, creating fears that the Islamists plan on extending the previously limited and sporadic fighting into a full-scale war.
Although their presence remains unconfirmed and is denied by both the Ethiopian and Somalian governments, reports suggest that the forces defending Baidoa are almost certainly being supplemented by members of the Ethiopian military.
The UIC launched their latest attacks hours after a deadline demanding that the Ethiopians allegedly making territorial incursions into Somalia remove themselves from the country at once.
Fears are growing that Ethiopia may choose to reinforce its apparent military presence in Somalia, forcing the onset of an outright war which could draw in other local players in the unstable Horn of Africa region.

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