28/11/06 (B371) BBC : Ethiopian ‘clash’ with Islamists. (Info lectrice – En anglais)

28/11/06 (B371) BBC : Ethiopian ‘clash’ with Islamists

forces have exchanged fire with Islamists in a strategic town north of Somalia’s
capital, officials of the powerful Islamic movement say.

Union of Islamic Courts chairman Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed told a rally in
Mogadishu that Ethiopian forces began shelling Bandiradley at 0300 GMT.

this month, Islamists captured the town near semi-autonomous Puntland, which
has strong ties to Ethiopia.

is no independent confirmation of the fighting and no Ethiopian reaction.

week, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said the Islamists represented
a "clear threat" to his country which he said was prepared for conflict
following repeated Islamist calls for a holy war.

The UIC,
which is backed by Ethiopia’s rival, Eritrea, and now controls much of southern
Somalia, has denied claims by Ethiopia and the weak Somali transitional government
that it has links to al-Qaeda.


chairman told the rally that Ethiopian soldiers had massed around Bandiradley
and started firing missiles.

tanks are trying to surround the area and now they are about 10km (six miles)
away from the town where our fighters are based," he said.

will never accept surrender to Meles, we are devoted to our religion and will
fight until we die. That is our promise."

The rally
was held to condemn United States support for the deployment of a regional
peacekeeping force in Somalia.

The US
is expected to propose a United Nations Security Council resolution this week
calling for African Union peacekeepers to support the interim government,
and for the partial lifting of the international arms embargo on Somalia.


A Brussels-based
think-tank, the International Crisis Group, warned that this move could easily
trigger a regional conflict.

It says
that the UN Security Council – rather than back one side in Somalia over the
other – should apply equal pressure on the transitional government and the
UIC to resume political negotiations.

Islamic official at the rally told the crowd they would invite foreign fighters
into Somalia to fight alongside them if the UN resolution was passed.

denies having thousands of troops backing government forces in Somalia, but
has admitted to having hundreds of military trainers there.

equally denies claims that it has sent troops and weapons to the UIC.

interim government only controls a small patch of territory around the town
of Baidoa.