Despite a brief flirtation with peace, the fighting that has ravaged Somalia in recent days appears likely to continue. The Union of Islamic Courts has advanced to the transitional government’s last remaining base of power, Baidoa, where fighting with Ethiopian troops has led to heavy casualties.
New York Times:
According to United Nations officials, the transitional government, with the help of thousands of Ethiopian troops, has inflicted heavy losses on the Islamists, who rely on teenage boys to do much of their fighting. Today, the fighting was concentrated in towns surrounding Baidoa, where witnesses said that dead bodies were piling up in the streets.
As the two sides continued to blast each other with machine guns and howitzers, thousands of residents tried to flee the city for safer areas, piling into minibuses with sacks of clothes on their shoulders.
The Islamists say that they are at war on Ethiopia, Somalia’s large, powerful, Christian-dominated neighbor. The two countries have clashed repeatedly in the past over contested border areas, and the Islamist leaders, along with many ordinary Somalis, consider Ethiopian troops inside Somalia to be invaders.
Sheik Ibrahim Shukri Abu-Zeynab, a spokesman for the Islamists, said today that the fighting will only worsen.
Fighters from the Islamic Courts pose while advancing toward Baidoa.