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Islamists Abandon Somali Capital Ahead of Invasion – Goal to Avert Bombardment December 28, 2006

Posted by Dan in Main, Must Read, News, Politics, War.

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Christian forces from Ethiopia have managed to run the Islamic government of Somalia out of Mogadishu. Who wants to bet this transition of power goes better than Iraq? If the Islamic government is telling the truth, it certainly doesn’t seem as if Christianity is on the right side of this fight….

BBC Article:

Islamist forces have left the Somali capital Mogadishu, as government troops backed by Ethiopia advance on the city.

A government spokesman told Reuters news agency that Islamic leaders had “dispersed into thin air”.

As the militiamen withdrew, gunfire echoed through the capital and there were reports of looting.

Ethiopia began a large-scale offensive at the weekend to back Somalia’s interim government, capturing ground previously held by Islamist militias.

A senior Islamist leader, Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, told al-Jazeera television: “We did not leave the capital to chaos,” said Sheikh Ahmed said.

“We left it to avert heavy bombing because Ethiopian forces are practising genocide against the Somali people,” he added.

Hundreds of gunmen who had just fought for the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) took off their uniforms and submitted to the command of clan elders, the Associated Press news agency reported.

Some began looting UIC buildings, it added.

A joint force of Ethiopian and Somali government troops are reported to be just 30 km (18 miles) from Mogadishu, threatening to besiege the capital.

Correspondents say the UIC’s departure leaves a power vacuum in Mogadishu, raising fears of a return to clan warfare that blighted the city in the 1990s.

Troubled history

Government spokesman Abdirahman Dinari told Reuters: “Our forces already effectively control Mogadishu because we have taken over the two control points on the main roads outside the city,” he said.

Mogadishu residents have reported seeing convoys of Islamic fighters driving south.

It is believed they are headed for the port city of Kismayo, their last remaining stronghold, 300 miles (500km) to the south.

At the weekend Ethiopia began a major offensive against militia loyal to the UIC, which previously held much of central and southern Somalia.

The African Union has called for Ethiopia to leave Somalia.

However the United Nations Security Council has failed to agree on a statement calling for the withdrawal of all foreign forces.

The UIC – which seized of the capital six months ago – had introduced law and order to the capital and much of southern Somalia for the first time in 16 years.

But other countries accuse the UIC of links to al-Qaeda, charges it denies.

Somalia and Ethiopia have a history of troubled relations, and Islamists have long called for a holy war against Ethiopian troops.

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