Somalian Forces Besiege Mogadishu
The Islamists who were threatening to behead people just days ago are fleeing back to the capital today.
Ethio Media reports:
NAIROBI, Kenya – The Islamist forces once in control of much of Somalia are crumbling faster than anyone expected and beat a hasty retreat back to their stronghold in Mogadishu, Somalia’s battle-scarred capital, on Tuesday.
By dawn, Buurhakaba, a large inland town, had fallen to the Islamists’ rivals, along with nearby Dinsoor and Bulo Burti, where just a few weeks ago the clerics in charge were threatening to behead people who did not pray five times a day.
The Islamist fighters, who had seemed invincible after taking Mogadishu from the city’s warlords in June, now seem powerless to stop the steady advance of the internationally recognized transitional government and the Ethiopian forces that are backing it.
The Sudan Tribune is reporting this morning that the Somalian capital of Mogadishu is surrounded by Ethiopian and Somalian forces:
Dec 27, 2006 (ADDIS ABABA) — Ethiopian-backed government troops will lay siege to Somalia’s capital Mogadishu until rival Islamist forces surrender, Somalia’s envoy to Ethiopia said on Wednesday.
A joint force of Ethiopian soldiers and pro-government fighters had taken control of Balad, a town 30 km (18 miles) north of the capital, Ambassador Abdikarin Farah said.
“We are not going to fight for Mogadishu to avoid civilian casualties…Our troops will surround Mogadishu until they surrender,” he told reporters in Addis Ababa.
The government had offered amnesty to any Somalia Islamic Courts Council fighters who laid down their arms, he said.
A week of artillery and mortar duels between the two sides has spiralled into open war that both say has killed hundreds.
Somalians cheered as the government troops and Ethiopians freed them from the Islamists who had taken over Jowhar:
Earlier, pro-government forces seized the key southern town of Jowhar from their Islamist rivals before taking Balad, just 30 km (18 miles) north of Mogadishu.
Many residents left their houses to cheer the victors, backed by Ethiopian tanks, who pursued the retreating Islamists as sporadic gunfire echoed in the air.
The rapid offensive came hours after Ethiopia, defending the Somali interim government, said it was halfway to crushing the Islamists, heightening fears its next step would be to use air strikes and ground troops to seize the capital.
** All Africa reports that Somalian and Ethiopian Forces say they will attack Mogadishu on Thursday.
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