[DEBATE] : Helicopters fire on Somali market
Riaz K Tayob
riazt at iafrica.com
Thu Mar 29 18:45:59 BST 2007
Helicopters fire on Somali market
Ethiopian helicopter gunships have fired at a market near an insurgent
stronghold in the Somali capital.
The BBC's Mohammed Olad Hassan in Mogadishu says hundreds of insurgents
armed with rocket launchers and machine guns are battling Ethiopian troops.
Ethiopian tanks are also deployed. Crowds dragged several dead bodies in
uniform through the streets.
The security crackdown in the south of the city is being billed as a
three-day operation to restore order.
Meanwhile, Ethiopia says two-thirds of its troops have withdrawn from
Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi told parliament the rest of his
troops, which are deployed in support of the interim government, would
leave in consultation with the African Union.
Ethiopian troops helped install the government last December but have
been gradually handing over responsibilities to the AU force that was
deployed to Mogadishu this month to try and bring stability to the city.
Some 1,700 Ugandan troops are in Mogadishu as the advance party of a
planned 8,000 strong AU force.
In a dawn operation, at least six people died in the fighting which
broke a ceasefire declared a week ago and was brokered by elders form
the Hawiye clan - the biggest in Mogadishu - but Ethiopia denied
reaching any deal.
Ethiopian tanks, troops and helicopters are trying to take control of
five key junctions.
This is the worst fighting Mogadishu has seen since the Islamists were
The militia responded with heavy artillery fire.
The southern part of Mogadishu, where the fighting is going on, has
become a no-go zone.
Dozens of injured civilians are stranded, as heavy fighting has grounded
public transport and other business activity in the Somali capital.
"This is the worst fighting Mogadishu has seen since the Islamists were
ousted. Explosions can be heard all over the city and many people are
just holed up in their homes," resident Zenaib Abubakar told the BBC
Ms Abubakar said heavy shelling is taking place near the main stadium,
where Ethiopian and government troops are battling with insurgents who
are putting up heavy resistance.
"It's difficult to tell how many people have been injured or killed
because fighting is taking place in several parts of the capital and
communication today is not very good," said another resident, Ahmed Noor.
The interim government has blamed the escalating violence in the capital
on remnants of the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC).
Somalia enjoyed a six months lull in the insecurity that had dogged the
country in the past 16 years, when the UIC took power last year.
But insecurity has returned to the city.
The UN estimates that 40,000 people have fled Mogadishu since February.
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Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/03/29 09:42:28 GMT
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