Somalia: The Empire Strikes Back


March 29, 2007: Ethiopian troops ended the ceasefire by resuming its disarmament efforts in pro-Islamic Courts neighborhoods. There was resistance, and at least a dozen people dead so far. The Ethiopians are using helicopter gunships this time. Ugandan peacekeepers are busy elsewhere in Mogadishu, but are not fighting. If the Ethiopians can grab most of the heavy weapons (truck mounted heavy machine-guns, mortars, anti-aircraft missiles) held by pro-Islamic Courts clans, there will be much less risk of future unrest.

March 28, 2007: Al Qaeda web sites around the world featured a call for fighters to go to Somalia and fight Ethiopian soldiers, and anyone else the terrorists don't agree with (that's a long list, especially in Somalia.)

March 27, 2007: Two car bombs exploded near an Ethiopian army base outside Mogadishu, causing the road going north from the city to be closed temporarily.

March 26, 2007: One of the pro-Islamic Courts clans released 18 government soldiers it had captured on the 21st. This was a peace gesture by the one clan in Mogadishu that does not even recognize the Transitional Government, which complicates peace negotiations.

March 25, 2007: On the second day of a truce, Ethiopian officers negotiate with the pro-Islamic Courts clans in Mogadishu. The Ethiopians threaten to attack the pro-Islamic Courts neighborhoods if a peace deal cannot be worked out. The Ethiopians insist on taking heavy weapons away from all clans in the capital, and the pro-Islamic Courts clans object the most.

March 24, 2007: A Russian portable anti-aircraft missile was used to shoot down a Russian made transport taking off from Mogadishu airport. Eleven technicians and air crew from Belarus were aboard, and all were killed. That closes the airport for a while. The airport had been opened again, for less than a year, after nearly a decade of being shut. As long as at least one faction or clan in the area opposes the airport operating, the threat of attacks on aircraft keeps the main airport closed.


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