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19/03/08 (B439) REUTERS : de nouveaux combats dans la capitale somalienne ce mercredi, entre islamistes et troupes protégeant le Gouvernement. Cela, un jour après que l’ONU ait déclaré qu’il était dangereux d’envoyer une force maintien de la paix. Battles erupt in Somali capital (En Anglais – Info lecteur)

REUTERS/Omar Faruk By Aweys Yusuf and Abdi Sheikh

MOGADISHU, March 19 (Reuters) – Battles erupted in Somalia’s capital on Wednesday between Islamist rebels and Ethiopian troops backing the government a day after the United Nations said it was still too dangerous to send peacekeepers there.

Witnesses in northern Mogadishu said three Ethiopian soldiers and at least one insurgent were killed as both sides traded heavy machinegun fire, grenades and artillery barrages.

"I was hiding in a wrecked building in the area where the fighting took place," Abdullahi Hussein, a resident of the Suq Holana neighbourhood, told Reuters by telephone.

Late on Tuesday, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said insecurity in Somalia made it too dangerous to deploy a U.N. peacekeeping force there until far-reaching political and military conditions were met.

The African Union has called on the world body to send troops to replace a small AU mission and help the country’s interim government fend off the Islamist insurgency.

In a major report, Ban said U.N. officials had identified conditions that could lead to such a deployment.

They included a viable political process taking hold with 70 percent of parties agreeing to lay down their arms and work together in a power-sharing deal.

Ethiopian soldiers currently supporting the government would have withdrawn or would be in the process of doing so.

"CONDITIONS NOT IN PLACE"

"A military technical agreement in support of peace would have been signed by the major clans and factions, which would list security arrangements, such as certain ways to achieve disarmament, in respect of heavy weapons as a minimum, and non-violent settlement of disputes," Ban said.

"As detailed in the fact-finding report, these conditions are regrettably not in place."

Ban said international factors including arms proliferation, the potential for a proxy war in Somalia between its neighbours and piracy, worsened an already complicated security issue.

The Security Council will discuss his report on Thursday and diplomats say it will again consider possibly sending U.N. peacekeepers — a move that is supported by South Africa but which permanent council members Britain and France are wary of.

About 2,600 A.U. troops from Uganda and Burundi have struggled to keep the peace in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu, where Islamist rebels have waged an Iraq-style insurgency of assassinations, grenade attacks and roadside bombings.

On Tuesday, the United States said it had formally designated Somalia’s al Shabaab militants, thought to be behind much of the violence, as a foreign terrorist organisation.

The group is the militant wing of the Somalia Islamic Courts Council which ruled most of southern Somalia for the second half of 2006 until the interim government and Ethiopian forces routed its leaders in a two-week war.

(Additional reporting and writing by Daniel Wallis in Nairobi; Editing by Bryson Hull) (For full Reuters Africa coverage and to have your say on the top issues, visit: http://africa.reuters.com/)

19/03/08 (B439) REUTERS : Les USA ont désigné les militants AL Shabaab comme une organisation terroriste liée à Al Quaida. The United States has formally designated Somalia’s al Shabaab militants a foreign terrorist organisation to increase pressure on what Washington says is al Qaeda’s main link in the Horn of Africa nation. (Info lecteur – En Anglais)

The al Shabaab is the militant wing of the Somalia Islamic Courts Council that took over most of southern Somalia for the second half of 2006, until Somalia’s interim government and its Ethiopian military allies routed the group in a two-week war.

The group, whose leader Aden Hashi Farah Ayro survived a U.S. airstrike in January 2007, is thought by security experts to be leading an insurgency that has killed 6,500 people since last year.

The designation put the Shabaab alongside groups such as al Qaeda, Sri Lanka’s Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, the Palestinian Hamas group and Lebanon’s Hezbollah.

"I hereby designate that organisation and its aliases as a foreign terrorist organisation," U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in a notice published on Tuesday in the U.S. government’s Federal Register.

The designation allows Washington to freeze the assets of any person or group linked to al Shabaab, another tool to go alongside military and intelligence efforts that have led to four U.S. military strikes in Somalia in the last 14 months.

"U.S. financial institutions can get assets of anyone involved and block them and prevent any material support getting to them," said a U.S. official who spoke on condition of anonymity. "We will be reaching out to other governments to get them to implement similar provisions."

Al Shabaab has adopted Iraq-style tactics, including assassinations and roadside bombs and has claimed at least one suicide bombing — unheard of in Somalia’s moderate Sufi Islamic customs.

"VIOLENT, BRUTAL GROUP"

"Al-Shabaab is a violent and brutal extremist group with a number of individuals affiliated with al Qaeda," the State Department said in a statement released in Washington.

"The designation will raise awareness of al-Shabaab’s activities and help undercut the group’s ability to threaten targets in and destabilize the Horn of Africa region," it added.

Western security officials and diplomats say Ayro trained with al Qaeda in Afghanistan and has provided shelter to al Qaeda operatives involved in 1998 and 2002 bomb attacks in neighboring

Kenya.

They say the al Shabaab, under Ayro’s command, has been responsible for killing aid workers and journalists, the desecration of an Italian colonial-era cemetery in 2004 and scores of attacks during the insurgency.

That has always been Washington’s concern in the absence of an effective central government in Somalia since the ouster of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991, and

It was the second time Washington has moved to freeze assets of Somalis on terrorism grounds. Ayro’s mentor, Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, was one of 189 people or entities "linked to terrorism" whose assets were frozen by the United States after the September 11, 2001, attacks.

The two are among six members or associates of al Qaeda thought by the United States to be in Somalia.

In New York, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued a report on Somalia which said there were indications that "international terrorists have sought safe haven in the Hiraan and Juba districts, considered to be the stronghold of (Islamic Courts Union or ICU) extremist elements."

The Security Council will discuss the report on Thursday and diplomats said it would again consider possibly sending a

U.N. peacekeeping force, a move supported by South Africa but which permanent council members Britain and France are wary of.

"The security situation remains volatile throughout the country," Ban said.

The United Nations has not itself confirmed the existence of "terrorist cells" in Somalia, but Ban’s report raised the concern that "the longer law and order is absent from Somalia, the greater the chance that international terrorists will use its territory as a safe haven."

18/03/08 (B439) Le leader des tribunaux islamiques somaliens refuse d’engager des discussions avec le Gouvernement, tant que les forces éthiopiennes seront sur le territoire. Somalia’s ICU rejects talks with gov’t (Info lecteur – En Anglais)

The Leader of Somali’s Islamic Courts Union (ICU) has rejected talks with the interim government to end insurrectionary attacks.

Somali Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein said last Wednesday that his government was ready to negotiate with opposition groups to end a 15-month insurgency against government troops and their Ethiopian military allies.

Calling for international mediation led by the United Nations’ special envoy to Somalia, Hussein said the government was willing to hold talks in any location to end fighting that local aid groups said had killed 6,500 people last year.

Islamic Courts Union’s leader Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys dismissed the offer, saying his movement and its fighters did not recognize the government of the war-ravaged country.

"Our fight is against Ethiopia and as long as they are there, Somalis cannot have dialogue," he said by phone from Eritrea, where he is living in exile after fleeing Somalia last year.

Aweys added he recognized Prime Minister Hussein as "a humble and peace lover” man, but he was “very sorry that he (the Premier) has placed himself in this position."

18/03/08 (B439) Radio-trottoir : des agents très spéciaux pourraient-ils être recrutés en Europe pour mettre un terme aux témoignages qui dérangent le régime ? (Lecteur)

Ayant lu votre information concernant l’arrestation du Ministre des Finances, porteur d’une somme d’un million cinq cent mille dollars US, je pense que cet argent pourrait être utilisé au moins partiellement

– soit pour calmer les réfugiés honorés (les pseudo somaliens) en leur fournissant des subsides afin qu’ils se ravitaillent en Khat et qu’ils restent endormis,

– soit à rémunérer des hommes costauds à la moralité élastique, afin que cherchant quelques chicanes à Ali Iftin ou à Alhoumekani dans une rue sombre.

N’oublions pas quecette somme représente la moitié de celle qui aurait été proposé à M Alhoumekani pour revenir sur ses déclarations (selon les échos de l’audience du 14 mars).

Ali Farah Assoweh n’est que le porte-serviette de Djama Heid alias Warabé Doufleh, le frére de Paulette. C’est sa seule force, car tous les autres membres de la nébuleuse le traite pour ce qu’il est : par exemple, Djama grandes oreilles et Hassan Said.

C’est tout à fait possible qu’il ait été arrêté à l’aeroport si IOG n’était pas au courant d’un détournement qui aurait été commis à son insu. Alors Paulette lui a raconté que cet argent servirait à payer les honoraires de l’avocat.

Nouveau mensonge de Paulette pour occulter le plan possible d’élmination des témoins clés ?

Je lance l’alerte à tous les djiboutiens. Paulette pourrait faire appointer des nouveaux collaborateurs à Bruxelles, à Paris et/ou à Genève, pour réaliser des missions spécales.

IOG est un dictateur sanguinaire, mais à côté de KMH alias RPP, c’est un mouton.

Heureusement, nous avons Dieu, notre conscience et notre prudence aussi.

18/03/08 (B439) Un lecteur adresse un message ouvert de félicitations à MM Alhoumekani et Iftin pour leurs témoignages.

A travers le site de l’ARDHD et les différents médias j’ai pu suivre le procès pour subornation de témoins et en particulier les témoignages de Messieurs Alhoumekani et Iftin dans ce dossier.

Permettez-moi de remercier ces deux personnes pour leur courage exemplaire et leur ténacité infaillible malgré toutes les manigances du régime de Guelleh.

On a là la preuve qu’il existe encore des djiboutiens intègres et incorruptibles. M. Alhoumekani est une personne qui est fidèle à ses valeurs. Son courage est connu de tous ses amis. Sa famille a été bannie et expulsée injustement vers le yemen, et malgré cela il résiste.

M Alhoumekani,
votre famille peut être fière de vous.

M Iftin, quant à lui, n’a pas supporté d’être contraint à rédiger de faux témoignages et il a refusé la compromission avec les autorités djiboutiennes.

Ces deux hommes ont beaucoup perdu dans cette histoire mais ils ont gagné deux choses très essentielles: leur liberté et l’espoir d’un changement proche.

Tenez bon Messieurs, vous êtes la fierté de la nouvelle génération, une génération qui refuse le tribalisme, le clanisme, le clientèlisme et la barbarie.

JE VOUS FÉLICITE.

18/03/08 (B439) AFP / YEMEN : deux morts (Une fillette et un policier) et 15 blessés à proximité de l’Ambassade US. Two killed in Yemen school blasts near US embassy (Info lecteur – En Anglais)

SANAA (AFP) – A schoolgirl and a policemen were killed in a bomb attack on Tuesday on a girls’ school near the US embassy that Washington says might have been anti-American but Yemeni authorities said was a criminal act.

About 15 children and four policemen were also wounded, a police official told AFP.

"It is a purely criminal incident," the official said, suggesting the attack was not linked to the embassy, located about 500 metres (yards) from the school.

But US State Department spokesman Tom Casey said he thought it was "fairly safe to assume that the embassy was at least a potential target if not the target," when asked whether the attack was directed at the United States.

He said unknown individuals had fired three mortar rounds in the general vicinity of the US embassy.

"While obviously there needs to be an investigation I think the general sense was these things were fired in the general direction of the embassy," he said.

"We also obviously condemn any acts of violence whether directed at us or anyone else."

Washington was also looking to work with Yemeni authorities as they investigate the attack "and hopefully able to locate and bring to justice those responsible for it," Casey added.

The embassy was closed and personnel sent home after the incident, he said.

Yemen, one of the world’s poorest countries, is awash with weapons, the scene of frequent incidents of violence and the ancestral homeland of Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden.

Al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for a suicide attack in October 2000 that killed 17 US sailors on the destroyer USS Cole in the southern port of Aden.

And in December 2002, three American doctors were killed and a fourth gravely wounded in an attack by an Islamist extremist at a Baptist hospital in Jibla, south of Sanaa.

Last June, a soldier with "emotional problems" opened fire on oil workers with US firm Occidental Petroleum Corp, killing one and wounding six, including the local American boss.

Foreign tourists have also come under attack in Yemen, which is rich in historical sites.

Two Belgian women tourists were among four people killed, and four more Belgians wounded when suspected Al-Qaeda gunmen opened fire on their bus in the eastern province of Hadramut on January 19.

Last July, seven Spanish tourists and two local drivers were killed when a suicide bomber rammed his explosives-laden car into their convoy at an ancient temple.

Yemen in 2007 banned people from bringing weapons into its major cities in a bid to stem crime and violence in a country with one of the highest rates of gun ownership in the world.

Owning a gun has long been seen as an essential part of the culture in the impoverished Arabian Peninsula state, which has an estimated 60 million firearms in private hands — roughly three for every citizen.

Two students were killed and 24 wounded last month when a man threw a hand grenade in a restaurant at Sanaa university, in an attack that was linked to a family dispute.

Also in the same month, a Yemeni killed four of his brothers before turning his gun on himself after a row over a plot of land.

18/03/08 (B439) Africatime : Le gouvernement somalien promet de ne plus traquer les chefs du clan Hawiye (La Grande Epoque 18/03/2008)

Le Premier ministre somalien Nur Hassan Hussein a promis que les chefs du clan Hawiye (opposition) à Mogadiscio ne seraient plus traqués par les forces de sécurité somaliennes et auraient la liberté de s’exprimer.

Il a fait cette déclaration après une rencontre avec des responsables de sécurité locaux, exhortant les membres du Conseil pour l’unité et la culture de Hawiye à participer aux efforts de réconciliation menés par le gouvernement.

"J’appel les leaders du clan Hawiye à travailler avec le gouvernement pour réaliser la paix dans le pays, dans la capitale", a indiqué M. Hussei, qui est lui-même venu de Hawiye, le plus important clan dans le sud et le centre de la Somalie.

Il a déclaré que les leaders de Hawiye peuvent aller où ils veulent "sans craindre d’être arrêtés ou intimidés de notre part".

Des chefs du clan Hawiyee sont contre la politique du gouvernement de transition et la présence des troupes éthiopiennes en Somalie. Certains d’entre eux avaient été arrêtés par les forces de sécurité, mais libérés après la nomination de M. Hussein comme Premier ministre en novembre dernier.

Les chefs du conseil de Hawiye, y compris son président Mohamed Hassan Haad, se sont cachés depuis l’arrestation du porte-parole du conseil Ahmed Diriye. Ce dernier a été libéré le mois dernier en raison de l’intervention du Premier ministre Hussien.

Dès son arrivée au poste du chef de gouvernement, M. Hussein a annoncé que la réconciliation avec tous les groupes d’opposition serait la priorité de son gouvernement.

18/03/08 (B439) Angola Press : toujours les pirates somaliens ! Mais ils empochent un gros paquet …. SOMALIE: Un remorqueur russe et son équipage libérés contre rançon

MOGADISCIO, 18/03 – Des pirates somaliens ont relâché lundi soir un navire russe et ses six membres d`équipages capturés au large des côtes somaliennes le 1er février, a annoncé mardi à l`AFP un ministre de la région semi-autonome du Puntland (nord-est de la Somalie).

« Nous avons appris que les pirates avaient libéré le bateau russe au niveau du village de Eyl après avoir reçu une rançon de 700.000 dollars », a indiqué à l`AFP le ministre des Ports et de la Pêche du Puntland, Ahmed Said Awnur, joint par téléphone de Mogadiscio.

« Nous regrettons le paiement d`une rançon car cela encourage les attaques de pirates », a-t-il dit. Les six membres d`équipage du remorqueur et brise-glace Svitzer Korsakov ont été libérés: le capitaine britannique, l`ingénieur en chef irlandais, un premier officier et trois matelots russes.

Les côtes somaliennes sont périlleuses pour la navigation: des pirates y attaquent régulièrement les navires pour s`emparer de leurs cargaisons et obtenir le paiement de rançons contre la libération des équipages.

La Somalie est ravagée par une guerre civile depuis la chute du président Mohamed Siad Barre en 1991.