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At least 23 die as Ethiopian troops battle Somali Islamist insurgents

Witnesses say al-Shabab group forced to retreat after hours-long border clash with army

At least 23 people have been killed in an attack on Ethiopian troops by al-Qaida-linked Somali insurgents near the two countries’ border.

Residents in Yurkud village said the battle lasted several hours. Mohamed Hussein said he had seen at least 17 dead fighters from the al-Shabab insurgency lying on the ground after the battle stopped.

“We have never seen fighting as tough as that,” he added.

Another local, Ali Barre, said he had seen six dead Ethiopian soldiers in uniform being carried past his house. The insurgents had been forced to retreat, he said.

“We have killed 73 Ethiopian soldiers and recovered 20 guns,” said an al-Shabab spokesman, Sheik Abdiaziz Abu-Musab. He said five al-Shabab fighters had been killed. The militants frequently exaggerate their victories and downplay their casualties, while the Ethiopian military never releases information on casualties.

read more at         www.guardian.co.uk

AU-backed troops attack Shabab positions in Mogadishu

English: Mogadishu Skyline 2006

MOGADISHU: African Union-backed Somali government troops attacked hardline Shabab insurgent positions at dawn on Friday in the war-torn capital of Mogadishu, officials said.
An artillery barrage first poured down on a northeast district — which AU forces claim was already largely abandoned by civilians — before tanks and ground troops moved into the area. “We have advanced on their last positions in Suqaholaha District, taking control of key locations,” said Somali military commander Abdulahi Ali Anod.
“The operations will continue until we get rid of the terrorist remnants, who are now on the run,” he added.
The assault is the latest in a long-running offensive to drive the Al-Qaeda allied Shabab from holdout positions, after most of the insurgents last year left fixed defences in Mogadishu and switched to guerrilla attacks.
The Suqaholaha neighborhood is the last main Shabab stronghold in the anarchic capital, and the attack comes two weeks after AU troops launched a similar offensive in southern Mogadishu. “It will extend the city’s defences and deny the Al-Qaeda backed terrorists important ground from which they have been targeting the city’s population,” the African Union mission in Somalia (AMISOM) said in a statement.
Extremist Shabab gunmen have been fighting to topple the weak Western-backed Somali government in Mogadishu, where the administration survives under the protection of the 10,000-strong AU force.

read more at              www.dailytimes.com.pk

Somali terrorists warn of reprisals on British streets

English: David Cameron's picture on the 10 Dow...

Islamists tell West not to intervene as London summit discusses future of war-torn state

Nigel Morris

Islamist fighters in Somalia last night warned of deadly reprisals on Britain’s streets if the West mounted military action in the war-torn east African state.

As a conference on Somalia’s future closed in London, the country’s President appealed for bombing raids on the positions of al-Shabaab, which recently merged with al-Qa’ida. Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed said he would welcome air strikes against the “menace” of the insurgents, warning: “This isn’t a Somali problem, it has to be addressed globally.”

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Clinton threatens sanctions on Somali peace spoilers

Hillary Clinton 1

By Arshad Mohammed and William Maclean

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday threatened sanctions on anyone blocking reforms intended to end Somalia’s “hopeless, bloody conflict” and counter militant and pirate groups seen as a growing menace to world security.

Addressing a conference aimed at energizing attempts to end more than 20 years of anarchy, Clinton also demanded greater efforts to cut funding for al Shabaab militants fighting Somalia’s weak Transitional Federal Government (TFG).

But in response to a reporter’s question she cautioned against Western air strikes on al Shabaab-held zones, adding she had no reason to believe anyone was contemplating them, and Britain’s International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell told the BBC the UK had no plans “for anything like that.”

Al Shabaab is the most powerful of an array of militias spawned by the conflict in Somalia, where armed groups have a history of wrecking attempted political settlements and perpetuating war, instability and famine.

“The position of the United States is straightforward: attempts to obstruct progress and maintain the broken status quo will not be tolerated,” Clinton told the one-day gathering in London of about 40 African, Arab and Western leaders and government ministers.

“We will encourage the international community to impose further sanctions, including travel bans and asset freezes, on people inside and outside the TFG who seek to undermine Somalia’s peace and security or to delay or even prevent the political transition.”

A conference communiqué said participants agreed to “act against spoilers to the peace process, and we would consider proposals” before a followup conference in Istanbul in June.

read more at                   www.reuters.com

Somalia: UK weighs up air strikes against rebels

Fears over piracy and al-Shabaab insurgents lead Britain and other EU countries to consider air strikes on logistical hubs

Mounting concern about the twin threats posed by pirates and Islamic insurgents operating in Somalia has led Britain and other EU nations to consider the feasibility of air strikes against their logistical hubs and training camps, the Guardian has been told.

The issue has been rising up the agenda of David Cameron’s National Security Council in recent months, reflecting anxiety in the west about piracy, but also the ambitions of some leaders within al-Shabaab, the clan-based movement that is fighting against Somalia’s western-backed transitional government.

Though the “war games” remain on the drawing board for now, the disclosure that they have been under serious scrutiny shows the depth of unease about the situation within the British government, which is hosting an international conference on Somalia in London starting on Thursday.

According to sources, the international coalition that has been spearheading the fight against the pirates drew up contingency plans in the summer of 2010, and again last year, for what was termed “over the beach” air strikes against Somali camps.

The UK has also considered plans for attacking targets in places where al-Shabaab and the pirates appear to co-exist, particularly in southern Somalia.

read more at           www.guardian.co.uk

Kenyan airforce hits Somali town

By John Ngirachu
The Citizen Correspondent
Nairobi. Kenyan troops intensified attacks on Al-Shabaab in Somalia with air strikes on a key rebel settlement at the weekend.They carried out air strikes in Xhwayo Town, 30 kilometres from Belles Qoockani Town on their way to Afmadow.

The commander of Kenya’s forces in central Somalia, Lt Col Jeff Nyagah, said Al-Shabaab insurgents had concentrated most of their logistical material and war tanks in southern Somalia.“We have not estimated the damages caused by the attack,” Lt Col Nyagah said.

Kenyan forces went into Somalia last year in an attempt to crush the Al-Shabaab militia group that was accused of abducting tourists and civil servants besides grenade attacks in the country.On Sunday, Lt Col Nyagah said they had noted an increase in population in the towns that had been liberated by the Kenya Defence Forces.
He cited Hosingow and Dhobley as towns whose populations had risen after being liberated.

He said that in the recently liberated Hosingow, the population had increased from 150 to 500 people.
“More people had abandoned their homes due to the drought and the fighting that marked the first phase of the operation, but they are now returning,” he said.Care-Somalia and the World Food Programme have moved to the towns to provide relief food. The Fying Doctors have also moved to the area.

“The families are being given food coupons of $100 (Sh8,300) to buy the supplies not provided for by the food donors,” he said.At the same time, President Kibaki will lead a high-powered Kenyan delegation to a conference on Somalia in London.

Top officials from more than 40 countries and multi-lateral organisations converge in London on Thursday to craft a new international approach to Somalia.

read more at            thecitizen.co.tz