MOGADISHU (AFP) - Heavy fighting between Somali Islamists
and Ethiopian-backed government troops has spread to new fronts
in central Somalia on the fifth day of deadly clashes, according
to both sides.
The near week-long fighting erupted in the Islamist-held Beledweyne
and Bandiradley townships, 300 kilometres (190 miles) and
630 kilometres (375 miles) north of the capital Mogadishu,
"This is the heaviest fighting, it started early this morning
around Bandiradley area and is still continuing," said Mohamed
Mohamoud Jumale, the Islamists' spokesman in the township.
"The fighting has flared up this morning," said Ahmed Nur
Indhobur, a government official in Galkayo town, 70 kilometres
(45 miles) north of the frontline.
Meanwhile, heavy artillery shells were heard near the government
seat of Baidoa and in Burhakaba, controlled by the Islamists,
according to residents.
"We don't know what is happening but the sound of the heavy
weapons is being heard everywhere in the town and surroundings,"
said Mohamed Hasan Sahal, a resident of Baidoa, about 250
kilometres (155 miles) northwest of the capital.
Fighting erupted early Wednesday, hours after the expiry of
an Islamist-imposed ultimatum for Ethiopia to withdraw the
thousands of troops the Islamists say Addis Ababa has deployed
in the country.
Ethiopia is supporting Somalia's weakened government against
the Islamist forces, which control Mogadishu and much of the
rest of the war-ravaged Horn of Africa nation.
Arab League-mediated talks in Khartoum collapsed in November
when Islamists refused to negotiate until Ethiopia withdrew
its troops. The new clashes have ruined hopes of a possible
resumption of talks.
Ethiopia rallies in Somalia as Ethiopian air raid continues
- Somalia) Thousands of angry people have on Sunday rallied
in Somalia capital Mogadishu in protest of the Ethiopian air
strikes in parts of Somalia killing civilians.
took the streets of Mogadishu forcing all business centers
to close down and go for the front against the Ethiopian troops
who are fighting with the Islamists in number of fronts in
Bay, Hiran and Mudug regions.
Mogadishu, people were very tense and angered by the Ethiopian
air strikes on Somalia as most of the local FM radios were
airing patriotic songs stirring up the people to die for the
defense of the territory against what they called the
Ethiopian rallies have also taken place in Lower Juba and
Hiran region in Somalia where the Somalis vowed to go against
the Ethiopian invaders.
the southern port city of Somalia and capital of Lower Juba
region, hundreds of pro-Islamist demonstrators gathered at
the main public square in the town chanting ant Ethiopia slogans.
the provincial capital of Hiran in central of Somalia, hundreds
of protestors demonstrated their anger over the Ethiopian
air strikes on the town vowing to join the war with Ethiopian
of volunteers are now registering to join the Islamist declared
Jihad on Ethiopia as fighting intensifies more heavily.
came hours after around eight war planes belonged to Ethiopian
air forces raided inside Beleweine and its residential areas
targeting Islamist positions to weaken their power and people
began fleeing to escape the shelling.
armed Ethiopian troops backed by war planes and tanks cut
off the main Kala-Bayrka road linking Beledwein to central
region of Mudug which is a key to Islamic Courts Union fighters.
to damage the Islamists power and not gain reinforcement.