December 27, 2006

Threats to escalate war in Somalia

December 27, 2006
MOGADISHU, Somalia - Government soldiers, joined by troops from neighboring Ethiopia, advanced toward Somalia's capital yesterday as Islamic fighters dug in, promising a "new phase" in the war.Somalia called on the Council of Islamic Courts militias, bloodied by a week of artillery and mortar attacks, to surrender and promised amnesty if they lay down their weapons, government spokesman Abdirahman Dinari said.
Calling the fighting "disastrous" for the Somalian people, the top UN envoy to Somalia, Francois Lonseny Fall, asked the Security Council to call for an immediate cease-fire. The council took no immediate action on a draft resolution circulated by Qatar that called for a cease-fire and withdrawal of foreign forces, specifying Ethiopian troops.Fall said 35,000 Somalis had crossed into neighboring Kenya to escape the fighting, which forced the UN to suspend aid delivery to 2 million Somalis.
The United States and several other nations objected to singling out Ethiopia and the call for a truce, saying talks and a political agreement were needed for stability before foreign forces can leave. The council agreed to continue discussions today.
A U.S. State Department spokesman in Washington appeared to endorse Ethiopia's military action, saying it had "genuine security concerns" about the growth of powerful Islamic militias next door.

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