September 29, 2007

Somali Fighting Intensifies; Hundreds Are Arrested, Police Say

By Ahmed Barre Ibrahem

Sept. 29 (Bloomberg) -- Fighting between government forces and Islamic insurgents intensified overnight in the Somali capital Mogadishu with attacks on police stations and Ethiopian army bases, a police spokesman said.

At least 100 insurgents were slain and 45 Somali soldiers killed or injured after insurgents attacked three police stations and two Ethiopian army bases, deputy police spokesman Abdullahi Nur Omar said in an interview today in the city. About 700 people suspected of assisting the insurgents have been arrested, he said.

Violence in the capital of the Horn of Africa nation has escalated since Ethiopian troops helped the United Nations- backed Transitional Federal Government, or TFG, oust the Islamic Courts militia from southern and central Somalia in January. Somalia has been without a central government since Mohammed Siad Barre's administration collapsed in 1991.

By yesterday, at least 2,000 Somali families had fled their homes in the northern parts of Mogadishu following the skirmishes, Nur Omar said yesterday. More families are leaving the capital today.

About 11,000 people have fled the fighting in Mogadishu this month alone, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, or UNHCR, said today. Since February, 40,000 people have moved to Afgooye, about 30 kilometers (18 miles) west of the capital.

An opposition alliance of more than 400 Somali clan leaders, Islamists, and other political figures met in Eritrea this month and called for the overthrow of the interim government. The alliance has vowed to drive Ethiopian troops and 1,600 Ugandan peacekeepers, who were sent by the African Union, from Mogadishu.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ahmed Barre Ibrahem in Mogadishu via Johannesburg at

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