Somali insurgents vow more attacks during Ramadan – By Mohamed Olad Hassan

September 3rd, 2008 Print Print Email Email

MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) — Mortar shells slammed into Somalia’s capital on Wednesday as insurgents vowed to intensify attacks during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Somalia already sees near-daily explosions of bloodshed, and thousands of Somalis — most of them civilians — have been killed since Islamic fighters began an Iraq-style insurgency in December 2006, after they were driven from power in Mogadishu and much of the south.

At least four people were killed early Wednesday, said several witnesses who reported seeing the dead in two different neighborhoods of southern Mogadishu. It was not possible to get official confirmation because Ethiopian forces never speak to journalists and Somali authorities do not normally offer casualty figures or share other information about the violence in the capital. (more…)

MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) — Mortar shells slammed into Somalia’s capital on Wednesday as insurgents vowed to intensify attacks during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Somalia already sees near-daily explosions of bloodshed, and thousands of Somalis — most of them civilians — have been killed since Islamic fighters began an Iraq-style insurgency in December 2006, after they were driven from power in Mogadishu and much of the south.

At least four people were killed early Wednesday, said several witnesses who reported seeing the dead in two different neighborhoods of southern Mogadishu. It was not possible to get official confirmation because Ethiopian forces never speak to journalists and Somali authorities do not normally offer casualty figures or share other information about the violence in the capital.

The two sides exchanged mortar and heavy machine-gun fire in a two-hour battle, forcing terrified residents to cower in their homes.

Wednesday’s violence was the worst since Aug. 21, when four hours of fighting outside the presidential palace killed 12 people and injured 17 others.

The insurgents are trying to topple the government and drive out Ethiopian troops who are propping up the administration.

“If we die while fasting for the sake of Allah, we will go to heaven,” a 26-year-old Islamic fighter, Abdi Yusuf, told The Associated Press by telephone. “So there is no reason why we shouldn’t intensify the fighting.”

During Ramadan, Muslims are expected to abstain during daylight hours from food, drink, smoking and sex, to focus on spiritual introspection. But the Islamists’ spokesman Abdirahin Issa Adow said fighters have “decided to redouble attacks against the Ethiopians and their stooges during the holy month of Ramadan,” which began this week.

He said the Ramadan attacks do not violate the Quran because his fighters are battling “enemies of Allah.”

Somalia has been at war since 1991, when clan-based militias ousted a socialist dictator and then fought for power among themselves. The conflict is complicated by clan loyalties and the involvement of archenemies Eritrea and Ethiopia, who back opposite sides in the fighting.

The last U.N. peacekeeping force in Somalia included American troops who arrived in 1992 and tried to arrest warlords and create a government. That experiment in nation-building ended in October 1993, when fighters shot down a U.S. Army Black Hawk helicopter during a battle that killed 18 American soldiers.

Since then, Ethiopian troops have helped Somalia’s shaky transitional government push the Islamists from power in Mogadishu and much of the south, but failed to establish security or improve living standards.

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