From: Berhane Habtemariam (Berhane.Habtemariam@gmx.de)
Date: Mon Feb 23 2009 - 08:36:35 EST
Insurgents vow more attacks in Somalia
Mon Feb 23, 2009 12:48pm GMT
Feb 23 (Reuters) - Somalia's hardline Islamist insurgent movement al
Shabaab, who are fighting the government, pledged on Monday to stage further
attacks against African peacekeepers.
The Horn of Africa nation has had no effective government since warlords
ousted dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991 then turned on each other.
Here are some details about the conflict:
* BLOODSHED AND HUNGER:
-- Violence in Somalia has killed more than 16,000 people since the start of
2007 and uprooted 1 million, and the chaos has helped fuel kidnappings and
piracy off the coast.
-- The transitional government and African Union have pleaded with the
United Nations to send a robust peacekeeping force that could take over from
3,500 AU troops who have said they were incapable of stabilising Somalia.
-- As if to underline this the AMISOM force was targeted in the deadliest
attack on an African Union peacekeeping force on Sunday when 11 Burundians
were killed and 15 injured in an attack on an AU compound in Mogadishu.
* ISLAMIST RULE:
-- In June 2006, Islamist militia loyal to the Somalia Islamic Courts
Council seized Mogadishu after defeating U.S.-backed warlords. With tacit
U.S. approval, Somalia's neighbour Ethiopia sent troops to defend the
interim government in Dec. 2006. The Ethiopian force advanced rapidly,
taking Mogadishu and driving the Islamists to Somalia's southern tip.
-- Since Ethiopian troops withdrew from Somalia last month, the country's
biggest threat has come from al Shabaab which, together with allied militia,
controls large swathes of southern Somalia. By contrast, the government
controls only parts of Mogadishu.
* ATTEMPTS AT GOVERNMENT:
-- In 2004 lawmakers elected warlord Abdullahi Yusuf as president and Ali
Mohamed Gedi as prime minister to run the 14th attempt at government since
Barre's fall. Gedi resigned in Oct. 2007 and was succeeded by Nur Hassan
Hussein as prime minister.
-- Yusuf himself resigned on Dec. 29. Somalia's newly elected leaders,
President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, a moderate Islamist and Prime Minister Omar
Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke, were due in Mogadishu later on Monday.
-- While some insurgents have pledged to support the new administration, the
al Shabaab group, which claimed responsibility for Sunday's attack, vowed to
-- A surge in piracy off Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden has brought the
pirates millions of dollars in ransom money.
-- NATO ships began anti-piracy operations off the Somali coast last
October, but have failed to stop the hijackings. Pirates seized a
Greek-owned cargo ship off Somalia on Sunday and several other vessels are
still being held by pirates.
C Thomson Reuters 2009 All rights reserved
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