Somali war goes hi-tech as militants march on capi..


Hizb Al-Islam Militants

Halkaan ka akhri

Islamist militants from Hizb Al-Islamiya patrol a deserted road in southern Mogadishu on Monday. Photos/ REUTERS

Islamist militants from Hizb Al-Islamiya patrol a deserted road in southern Mogadishu on Monday. Photos/ REUTERS 

By HENRY OWUOR and AgenciesPosted Monday, May 25 2009 at 17:46

In Summary

  • Rebel groups setting off remote controlled explosives similar to those used in Iraq

Somali Islamist fighters are advancing on key government installations after a bloody weekend that saw the deaths of six policemen and one civilian in a suicide attack.

Related Stories

The latest attacks in Mogadishu bear the hallmarks of a well planned offensive. Fighters, some of whom are non-Somalis, are using IUDs (Improvised Explosive Devices) that are set off using phones by remote control and are easy to plant in the pot-holed streets. This is the same type of weapons used in Iraq.

It is now no secret that the war has gone hi-tech.

At the weekend, Somali Islamist leader Hassan Dahir Aweys, who has claimed parts of Kenya and Ethiopia, said that Eritrea supports the battle to oust President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed’s government. The President was installed early this year.

Eritrea has long denied aiding Somali radicals.


The AU wants UN sanctions on Eritrea, as well as an aerial exclusion zone in Somalia and the blockade of ports and airports to prevent the entry of foreign fighters and weapons shipments.

But Asmara rejected the call, blaming an East African regional grouping, whose sanction call last week was endorsed by the AU, for the chaos in Somalia.

The seaside capital has been ravaged by 18 years of almost uninterrupted civil conflict and hundreds of thousands of people had already fled following Ethiopia’s invasion in late 2006.

Aweys also admitted that there are ‘‘a few Arabs” fighting on the side of the Islamists who have vowed to expel the African Union peace-keeping force from the country.

The African Union force, which has the duty of protecting President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, operates mainly at the seaport, in the university area, at the old military academy and at the K4 intersection to the presidential palace.

The force also protects key government institutions such as Parliament and the Prime Minister’s office.

Some 4,300 soldiers from Uganda and Burundi staff the military force.

President Ahmed has appealed for international help to drive out hundreds of foreigners leading the offensive against his forces.

“We will not allow Somalia to be a haven for groups with foreign ideologies from Iraq and Afghanistan,” President Ahmed told a news conference in Mogadishu.

“We urge Somalis to defend against those groups that include foreigners, and we ask the international community to back us.”

Al-Shabaab, which the United States says has close links to Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda network, has been spearheading the rebel offensive with allied guerrilla group Hizbul Islam. They stepped up attacks in the capital earlier this month.

Close to 200 people have been killed in the latest Somali fighting and close to 60,000 have fled the capital city.

African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) barracks based at Villa Somalia, the airport and the university are currently the main targets of the Islamists, even as United Nations secretary general Ban Ki-moon says the time is not right to send troops to Somalia. UN members are reluctant to get involved in the Somali conflict, and Somalis on the street want no return of the UN.

At the same time, the interim Somali government that was installed in Djibouti at talks sponsored by the UN is seen as a puppet regime; a leader imposed on the populace by foreign powers.

The UN has been out of Somalia for 14 years, having pulled out after its forces faced a major onslaught despite the present of the US military might.

One of the key Somali grievances against international organisations such as the UN is that they take away jobs and are exploiting the people’s misery.

As war rages in Somalia, the UN wants to lead the political process and to use the Amisom as its military muscle.

But, at the same time, the AU wants to set its own agenda on Somalia, insisting that Africa needs an “African solution” to its own problems.
Kenya’s Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka yesterday asked African countries to commit to the contribution of more troops to enable the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia overcome the threat from Islamic militants.

Mr Musyoka said instability in Somalia remained a threat to peace and security in the Horn of Africa and called for efforts to reverse the disruption of trade in the Gulf of Aden by Somali pirates.

Piracy menace

Speaking during celebrations to mark Africa Day at the residence of Algerian ambassador Alben Zenga, Mr Kalonzo said the installation of a legitimate and functioning government in Somalia founded on the rule of law and order is a must if the piracy menace is to be contained.

“It is regrettable that the AU has not been able to fully reinstate the Republic of Somalia due to inadequate deployment of troops,” said the VP.
He said piracy could only be eliminated through joint international efforts through constructive engagement.

Currently, the fragile Somalia administration is facing threats from an increasingly resurgent militant groups. Heavy fighting has rocked Mogadishu, leaving the government to control a small portion of the country.

Though it is receiving support from a few thousand AU peace keepers, the Somali government is overwhelmed by the militants.

Sourse Nation

%d bloggers like this: