20/10/08 (B470) Shabelle : Le calme après la tempête à Baïdoa. // Calm after fight for Baidoa town (En Anglais – Info lecteur)

by: Abdinasir Moh-Guled

Local people are slowly returning to the Eldon locale 7km west of Baidoa after lasted entire day heavy fighting erupted on Saturday.

Most shops and businesses are still shut, and civilians are said to be wary of an Islamists attack, despite the hundreds of troops now in the town.

One resident, Mohammed Haji, said he had counted 7 wounded soldiers lying dead in one street.

But government officials say only 5 soldiers injured, as a result of Islamists action.

« The only soldiers casualties we are aware of… occurred in an incident in which the Islamists ambushed wary troops in Eldon desert area” government army official who declined to reveal his name told Shabelle.

Several hundred troops are now on patrol in Eldon.

Eleven-year-old Moqtar Hassan, who remained in the town during the battle, said many of his family members had been fled and wasn’t know where they are..

But the Ministry of Defence said the operation was designed to limit collateral damage,

Eldon is a remote, at the end of a vulnerable supply route and a prime target for counter-attacks by the insurgents.

The two sides have handed entire Saturday with fighting as the residents’ area cautious to flee another fighting that may erupt in the neighborhood since the two warring sides remain in the quarter.

The fighting started when armed Islamist fighters’ intercepted government’s armed vehicles sparking heavy fighting in the area.

Security in Baidoa is said to be worsening after Islamists took control of several districts in the region.

The Ethiopian troops are backing government forces against the Islamist insurgents.

Analysts say the Islamist movement appears to be regaining its strength after Ethiopian troops supporting the shaky transitional government chased them from power in December 2006. The Islamists, who had taken control of the capital and much of the south, launched an Iraq-style insurgency. Earlier this year, they launched a series of hit-and-run raids on dozens of Somali towns. Last month they captured Kismayo, Somalia’s third city, the largest they have held since 2007.

The U.N.-backed Somali government has been riven by infighting and has failed to deliver security or services to its impoverished people.