Somalia Jihadis Mass Near Government Town
The Council on American Islamic Relations called the takeover of Somalia by Islamic militants “a positive change.” But Ethiopia has a different opinion, as the jihadis prepare to push into the Somali government’s last stronghold: Somalia braces for war as residents flee.
MOGADISHU, Somalia - Hundreds of Ethiopian troops arrived to protect Somalia’s government Friday as witnesses said a powerful Islamic militia massed nearby, raising concerns of clashes between the two forces.
More than 130 trucks carried the Ethiopians into Baidoa, the only town controlled by the government, residents said. “They parked their trucks around the town,” Nunay Selah said by telephone. “They are digging trenches.”
The standoff is between the transitional federal government, which has U.N. recognition but little authority on the ground, and the Council of Islamic Courts, which controls most of southern Somalia.
Residents as far away as Bur Hakaba — 40 miles east of Baidoa — were evacuating. “We are seeing strong military movements from both sides,” said Mohamud Ahmed, a father of six. “We don’t believe we will be able to continue living in our town peacefully.”
Ethiopia, a largely Christian nation, fears the emergence of neighboring Islamic state and has acknowledged sending military advisers to help Somalia’s government. But Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has repeatedly denied sending a fighting force.