20/04/08 (B444) All Africa avec Garowe on line / Les soldats éthiopiens ont confisqué des armes lourdes dans la maison de l’ancien Premier Ministre Ali Mohamed Gedi. / Somalia: Ethiopian Soldiers Confiscate Ex-Prime Minister’s Weapons (En Anglais – Info lecteur)

Ethiopian soldiers deployed in southern Somalia confiscated heavy weapons belonging to former Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi on Friday, sources said.

The Ethiopian soldiers, who were accompanied by officials from the Somali Ministry of Defense, confiscated the weaponry from the private residence of the ex-Prime Minister.

Witnesses reported that 10 Toyota trucks equipped with anti-aircraft guns were pulled out of the Mogadishu residence of Mr. Gedi, who is still a member of parliament.

A Gedi aide who lives in Mogadishu privately confirmed to Garowe Online that the armored trucks were confiscated by the Ethiopian troops on behalf of the Somali government.

It is not clear why the interim government has confiscated the weaponry at this time, but insiders said Defense Ministry officials had indicated before that they would collect private weapons in the hands of government officials.

Mr. Gedi becomes the first individual whose weapons have been confiscated in this ongoing process, the sources added.

The former Prime Minister, who has lived in Nairobi since resigning last October, is a close associate of Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.

Observers say Mr. Gedi is quietly leading a political arm opposed to the leadership of Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf from his Nairobi base. The ex-Premier has publicly announced plans to run for Somali president in the 2009 elections.

20/04/08 (B444) All Africa avec Garowe on line / Le Président somalien : « A Mogadiscio, nous nous battons contre des enfants appelés Shabaab – Le gouvernement et ses forces armées ont la capacité d’écraser les Shabaab et les autres groupes  » / Somalia: ‘We Are Fighting Children in Mogadishu,’ Says Leader (En Anglais – Info lecteur)

Somalia’s interim president has said that his government can crush the armed opposition, which is being spearheaded by « children named al Shabaab. »

In a Friday interview with the VOA Somali Service, President Abdullahi Yusuf said the Somali transitional government has the military capacity to completely crush al Shabaab and other armed opposition groups fighting in the capital, Mogadishu.

« We are concerned about the safety of civilians for we cannot fight among them [civilians] against these children, » President Yusuf said, adding: « [These children] do not hear anything, do not know anything, have no academic knowledge and are bought for petty Shillings [money] by opposition leaders. »

He indicated that al Shabaab is a guerrilla group that is incapable of maintaining control of towns the group captures, saying: « Their [al Shabaab] objective is propaganda to tell the world that they exist and that there is chaos [in Somalia], » President Yusuf added.

The Somali leader stated that he is not willing to step down yet, because he has « not given up. »

« I am a man with strong principles…if I [ever] do give up, I will not stay, » the President told VOA.

The ailing Somali leader briefly described his years in office and the accomplishments of the transitional government, saying that the Islamic Courts group refused to accept peace with the government prior to the December 2006 Ethiopian military intervention.

« We [government] came to Mogadishu with power and we are here now…this is a great accomplishment, » President Yusuf claimed.

Somalia’s leader is currently visiting Washington, D.C., where he is scheduled to speak with U.S. government officials.

On Wednesday, President Yusuf gave an address at the United Nations Security Council meeting in New York, whereby he called for the removal of a 1992 UN arms embargo on the war-torn Horn of Africa country.

President Yusuf also formally asked the UN to deploy peacekeepers to strengthen a small African Union peacekeeping force in Somalia and replace Ethiopian troops serving in the country.

Somalia has lacked national order since 1991 when warlords overthrew military dictator Siad Barre and plunged the country into years of civil war.

Ethiopia’s intervention in late 2006 sparked a bloody insurgency led by Islamist guerrillas, who want to topple Yusuf’s interim government and reestablish Islamic Sharia law across the country.

18/04/08 (B443) All Africa avec Garowe on Line : Trois soldats éthiopiens sont tués dans l’explosion de leurs véhicules touchés par des tirs de roquette. De violents accrochages se seraient produits dans la nuit de mercredi. Somalia: 3 Ethiopia Soldiers Killed in Rocket Fire. (En Anglais -Info lecteur)

Ethiopian troops bolstering Somalia’s weak interim government were targeted in a rocket attack Thursday in the capital Mogadishu, witnesses said.

An insurgent rocket propelled grenade hit a convoy of Ethiopian army trucks transporting water to a military base in north Mogadishu located near the ex-pasta factory.

Three Ethiopian soldiers on board one of two water trucks were killed immediately after the truck exploded, according to eyewitness accounts.

Ethiopian army reinforcements rushed to the scene from their base at the former pasta factory.

A 20-minute skirmish ensued, pitting the Ethiopian troops against suspected insurgents linked to the country’s Islamist rebels.

One of the insurgents was shot and killed by the soldiers, a witness told Garowe Online by telephone.

The remaining group of attackers was forced to flee the scene after the Ethiopian soldiers outgunned them.

The exploded water truck was towed away while the second water truck, which was unharmed, was escorted back to base under heavy guard.

Minister’s car bombed

In a separate incident, the personal car of Somali Information Minister Ahmed Abdisalan was targeted in a landmine explosion that wounded the driver and a bodyguard, witnesses said.

Mr. Abdisalan, who also holds the post of Deputy Prime Minister, was not in the car when the landmine exploded. But his personal driver and a bodyguard were wounded, according to the driver who spoke to local media afterwards.

No group has claimed responsibility for planting the landmine, but security sources linked the attack to insurgents fighting to topple the country’s secular government.

Mogadishu police spokesman Abdullahi Shasha told reporters today that no government soldier was hurt in an overnight insurgent attack.

Locals reported that heavy fighting erupted overnight Wednesday along the Maka-al-Mukarama Road. But the situation was calm as of Thursday morning, with hundreds of Ethiopian and Somali soldiers patrolling the street.

Somalia’s rebels have waged a relentless guerrilla war against the interim government and its Ethiopian military backers since early 2007 when Mogadishu’s Islamist rulers were militarily ousted from power.

Thousands of people have died in the ongoing war, creating a humanitarian crisis where more than 1 million Somalis remain internally displaced.

17/04/08 (B443) ALL AFRICA avec Garowe on line / Le Président Somalien qui est arrivé à New York pour participer à une réunion du Conseil de sécurité, a fait une mise au point. « L’ordre du jour des négociations pour la paix devra exclure toute discussion sur la présence de l’Armée éthiopienne et le groupe Shabbab, bras armé des islamistes, désigné comme terroriste, n’y participera pas …  » – Somalia: ‘Ethiopian Army Issue Not Included in Peace Negotiations’ – President (En Anglais – Info lecteur)

Somalia’s interim president says an upcoming round of peace talks with the country’s armed opposition will not include any discussion on the presence of Ethiopian troops in the war-torn Horn of Africa nation.

President Abdullahi Yusuf, who arrived in New York for a UN Security Council session, told the BBC Somali Service on Wednesday that « terrorists » forced the Ethiopian army to come to Somalia in the first place.

« These terrorist men would not stop attacks against Ethiopia and the [Somali] government, so the Ethiopians are defending themselves, » President Yusuf said.

He specifically named al Shabaab, the armed wing of the Islamic Courts movement, as a terrorist group that the government will not negotiate with.

Last month, the U.S. government added al Shabaab on its list of international terror groups.

President Yusuf said that the negotiation talks with the Eritrea-based opposition group, the Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia (ARS), will not discuss the legitimate existence of the Somali transitional federal government (TFG) and its national constitution.

Further, the talks will not include any topic regarding the posts of President, Prime Minister or the Speaker of Parliament, saying: « A President is elected, but does not come to power through the barrel of a gun. »

The Somali leader indicated he plans to persuade the UN Security Council to approve a proposal to deploy a 28,000-strong international peacekeeping force to replace Ethiopian troops and a short-handed African Union peacekeeping force currently deployed in the country.

According to President Yusuf, the international community must take an active role to solve the prevailing humanitarian and political crisis in Somalia following more than 17 years of armed conflict.

A senior ARS opposition figure indicated this week that the first round of peace talks with the interim government scheduled for May 10.

The Ethiopian army invaded southern and central Somalia in December 2006, after the Islamic Courts movement that ruled the capital Mogadishu at the time attacked the Yusuf government’s seat of power in the inland city of Baidoa.

The Islamist militia was routed out of Mogadishu within two weeks, but the group has reorganized itself into a guerrilla outfit and is largely responsible for a relentless insurgency that has killed thousands of people and severely crippled the Somali government’s ability to rule the country.

Exiled Islamist leaders are key members of the ARS opposition alliance, which also includes former lawmakers in Yusuf’s interim government.

20/03/08 (B439) ALL AFRICA / Puntland : Le Ministre de l’énergie rejette une loi sur le Pétrole, qui serait une source de contestations possibles sur le territoire du Puntland. Somalia: Energy Minister Rejects Puntland Oil Law (En Anglais – Info lecteur)

Yusuf Ali – Djibouti

Mohamud Ali Salah, Somalia’s minerals and energy minister, has rejected a natural resources law that is being considered by the regional government of Puntland under a shroud of controversy.

A press statement Energy Minister Salah sent to Garowe Online detailed his position and the position of the UN-recognized Transitional Federal Government (TFG).

The Puntland regional government’s attempt to ratify an oil law is "unacceptable," the statement read, since the constitution states that "natural resources…are considered ‘national property’ and the TFG is the peoples’ caretaker authority."

On Wednesday, the Puntland Parliament voted on "The Oil and Minerals Law of Puntland State Government," with legislators deeply divided on the issue.

The government of Puntland President Mohamud "Adde" Muse has been locked in political tangle with the TFG since 2005, when Muse unilaterally signed an exploration agreement without regional parliament oversight or approval from the federal government.

Former Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi, who resigned last October, vehemently opposed the Puntland leader’s efforts to enact a law legitimizing his deal with Australia-based Range Resources, Ltd. Gedi’s argument was that only the federal government has the constitutional authority to sign international agreements.

Energy Minister Salah’s press statement is the first clear indication regarding the issue of natural resources that has emerged from the current government of Prime Minister Nur "Adde" Hassan Hussein.

The Muse administration in Puntland is dealing with rising insecurity across the region, including human trafficking, kidnappings and piracy, and official corruption.

Government employees remain unpaid and members of the security forces have either quit or joined criminal gangs for survival.

The region is also currently undergoing a period of drought and is dependent on foreign humanitarian aid to feed some of its own citizens.

Although Somalia does not have any proven oil reserves, industry experts consider the troubled Horn of Africa country a "speculative bet," especially for risk-takers.

Somalia’s former dictator, Gen. Mohamed Siad Barre, signed legal deals in the 1980s with American and European firms to explore for oil in the country. But that effort was short-lived and ended in 1991 when clan warlords overthrew Barre and the country imploded.

20/03/08 (B439) ALL AFRICA : des insurgés contraignent des militaires éthiopiens à abandonner un camp militaire. Somalia: Insurgents Force Ethiopian Soldiers to Vacate Army Base (En Anglais – Info lecteur)

Heavy fighting erupted in the Somali capital early Wednesday morning after Islamist rebels attacked an Ethiopian army base in northern Mogadishu, our correspondent reported.

At least six people – three Ethiopian soldiers and three insurgents – have been confirmed dead during the battle, which lasted for nearly five hours, according to witnesses.

More than 10 civilians were wounded during the onslaught. Locals who live in and around Mogadishu’s livestock market in Huriwa district said they could not leave their homes during the battle.

Ethiopian troops stationed at the Maslah army camp spread into the livestock market and were reportedly moving equipment and other military materials to the ex-pasta factory when they came under gunfire.

The fighting started off slowly, but gradually strengthened as more insurgents joined the battle and Ethiopian soldiers left their barracks at the former pasta factory base to reinforce troops at Maslah.

The Ethiopian army used tanks against insurgents who used mortars and rockets during the battle. Several shells hit neighborhoods but casualties could not be confirmed yet.

Military sources in Mogadishu tell Garowe Online that the Ethiopian troops stationed at the Maslah camp were being relocated to the pasta factory, citing logistical difficulties that impacted the supply route.

The latest reports indicate that Islamist gunmen had successfully captured Maslah camp after the Ethiopian troops withdrew towards the ex-pasta factory.

A bloody insurgency has gripped Mogadishu since January 2007 when Ethiopian troops helped install the UN-backed Transitional Federal Government in the Somali capital.

Thousands of people have been killed and more than half a million civilians displaced from their homes in Mogadishu since, according to human rights groups.

06/03/08 (B437-B) ALL AFRICA – Les missiles américains ont manqué leur cible. Somalia: U.S. Missile Attack Missed Key Target (En Anglais – Info lecteur)

The Nation (Nairobi)

6 March 2008 – Abdulsamad Ali –
Nairobi

A US missile strike against the Somali town of Dobley may have missed its target – Kenyan terror suspect Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan.

Security sources also said in Mombasa Wednesday that Mr Nabhan’s mobile communication was intercepted by the US Navy, leading to the Sunday attack.

Dobley is near the Kenya-Somalia border.

The Tomahawk missile fired from the sea may have hit when the suspect, born in 1968 in Mombasa, had already left the location, the sources added.

But the police are not ruling out that Mr Nabhan may be among the 20 people wounded in the attack.

Mr Nabhan is a close ally of another wanted terrorist suspect Harun Fazul, and are believed to be always together.

Other sources close to Mr Nabhan said they did not believe he was killed. « I think it’s just propaganda to try and find out where he actually is, » said one source.

The source said during an earlier attack in southern Somalia, it was announced that Mr Fazul had been killed, but it was later confirmed that he was not even near the vicinity. The Kenya police say both Mr Nabhan and Mr Fazul are wanted for their involvement in the bombings of the US embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, on August 7, 1998 where more than 200 people died, while 5,000 others were injured.

They are also wanted for the November 2002 bombing of the Paradise Hotel in Kikambala and the attempted shooting down of Arkia Airliner in Mombasa.

Sunday was not the first time the US was striking at Somalia for their prime targets Nabhan and Fazul.

The super power conducted similar strikes in southern Somalia in January 2007 against al Qaeda targets. Officials later confirmed that they did not believe that they achieved their goal.

The 2007 targets also included members of the Islamic Courts Union, who had been driven out of power in Somalia by Ethiopian-backed Somali troops.

Days before the attack, Mr Fazul’s wife and three children were arrested together with Mr Nabhan’s wife after they had tried to cross into the Kenyan border.

They have all since been released although several other Kenyans, arrested while trying to flee Somalia after the ouster of Islamic Courts Union (ICU), are still being held in military camps in Ethiopia.

02/03/08 (B437) ALL AFRCICA.COM avec GAROWE : Somalie : Les combats de samedi entre les insurgés et les forces gouvernementales auraient provoqué la mort de 17 personnes et des blessures pour 20 autres. Au total les 15 derniers mois de violence auraient fait 6.500 morts. 17 Killed, 20 Wounded in Mogadishu Violence (En Anglais – Info lecteur)

Ethiopian-backed Somali government troops engaged in fierce fighting with insurgents in the capital Mogadishu Saturday, leading to at least 17 deaths, sources said.

Two police officers manning a checkpoint at Howlwadaag intersection near Bakara market were shot and killed in a sneak insurgent attack this morning. The killers armed with pistols escaped before police reinforcements rushed to the scene.

Witnesses saw police units take away the dead bodies towards the district headquarters.

Later in the day, heavy fighting erupted in parts of Hodan district and quickly spread into Bakara market, where insurgents backed into as a joint Somali-Ethiopian force pushed forward with armored vehicles including tanks.

Artillery and tank shells hit Bakara business fronts and homes in the surrounding area, killing and wounding civilians shopping at the market or inside their homes, witnesses reported.

A Garowe Online correspondent saw two bodies, including a young child dressed in school uniform, lying on the ground lifelessly near Howlwadaag intersection that leads into Bakara.

It is not clear how many soldiers and insurgents died in today’s battle, but witnesses reported seeing dead bodies belonging to both groups of fighters.

Most civilians fled the area for personal safety, including our own correspondent.

Medical sources at Mogadishu’s Medina Hospital said 20 wounded people were admitted before 6pm local time, when the fighting slowed down to a halt as nighttime approached.

Today’s battle was one of the worst fighting Mogadishu has seen in months, according to our correspondent and residents.

Somali government officials have repeatedly accused Bakara market of being the headquarters of the insurgency, which includes Islamist guerrillas and clan fighters opposed to the presence of Ethiopian army troops.

Mogadishu has seen relentless violence since January 2007 when the Ethiopian army helped government troops overthrow the Islamic Courts movement that governed the capital since June 2006.

The Islamists, who vowed to wage a guerrilla war to uproot the Ethiopians and their Somali government allies, claim responsibility for most insurgent attacks, including daily shootouts, roadside bombings and the targeted assassination of government officials.

Human rights groups say 6,500 people were killed in Mogadishu last year and hundreds of thousands of civilians displaced by the insurgency, which has now entered its 15th consecutive month.