Somalia violence escalates; insurgents take war to Ethiopia

An estimated 100 people were killed and thousands fled their homes in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, in renewed fighting over the weekend following between Ethiopian troops and insurgents. Another 200 were wounded as the Bakara market, Somalia’s largest open-air market, was hit by artillery fire. The fighting started when Ethiopian and Somali government forces moved into the restive Yaqshid and Wardigley districts.

An estimated 2.6 million Somalis need assistance, with the figure expected to reach 3.5 million by year’s end if the humanitarian situation does not improve, the UN says. Fighting has forced up to one million Somalis to flee their homes, while an estimated 6,500 civilians have been killed since the Ethiopian intervention. (IRIN, June 9)

A little-known Somali group claimed responsibility May 29 for a bomb attack that killed three in Ethiopia on the eve of national celebrations marking the 17th anniversary of the current regime’s ascent to power. “We will keep on fighting until we liberate our country from the Ethiopian invaders,” said Haji Abukar, a spokesman for the previously unknown Islamic Guerrillas, after claiming responsibility for the bombing bombing two days earlier at Nagele, 560 kilometers south of the capital, Addis Ababa. “Our fighters will continue their holy war against the enemy of Somalia and we will target them everywhere.” The Guerillas’s statement said: “We are an Islamic group that stands for the liberation of Somalia and have a good relationship with the rest of the insurgents in Somalia.” (AP, May 29 via Halgan)

See our last posts on Somalia, Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa.