Militants surround Somalia town

Associated Press
Thousands of Islamic militants have surrounded the only town in Somalia, which is still controlled by Somalia's internationally-recognised government.
Baidoa, the surrounded town, was teeming with soldiers on Tuesday, with troops in new uniforms patrolling the city and manning checkpoints.
Baidoa, in southwest Somalia, is the seat of the transitional federal government.
Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi told The Associated Press in his office in Baidoa, that "the signals of war are in place."
"Because the so-called Islamic Courts and their allies are mobilising their forces to attack Baidoa, so it can happen (at any moment) any time, but we are preparing defensive measures rather than offensive measures," he added.

Tensions mount
Ethiopian troops are believed to be based around Baidoa, but were not immediately identifiable. Many Ethiopians are ethnically Somali and Ethiopian and Somali government troops wear the same uniforms.
Ethiopia acknowledges sending military advisers to help Gedi's internationally recognised government but denies sending a fighting force.
A confidential UN report obtained by the AP in October said up to 8,000 Ethiopian troops were in Somalia or along the border backing the government.
Tensions have been mounting in recent days between the increasingly powerful militia under the umbrella of an Islamic group, known as the Council of Islamic Courts, and Somalia's government, which has struggled to assert control.
Sheik Yusuf Indahaadde, national security chairman for the Council of Islamic Courts, said in the capital, Mogadishu, that if the Ethiopians didn't withdraw from Somalia within seven days, then "we will launch a major attack."
Citing "intelligence reports," Gedi said on Tuesday that the Islamists have 3,000 foreign fighters, with more arriving daily.
He said four flights carrying weapons and troops arrived in Mogadishu two days ago, and a boat carrying 700 fighters arrived in Kismayo on Tuesday.

Govt problems
Somalia has not had an effective central government since warlords overthrew longtime dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991 and then turned on each other.
Gedi's transitional government was formed two years but it has been unable to assert its authority over the country.
Since June, the Council of Islamic Courts has seized Mogadishu and taken control of much of southern Somalia.
The group's strict interpretation of Islam has drawn comparisons to the Taliban, although many Somalis credit the council with bringing a semblance of order to a country that has seen little more than anarchy for more than a decade.
On Monday, Islamic militiamen were moving on the Ethiopian border town of Tiyeglow to try to seal the 1,000-mile frontier against advancing Ethiopian troops while trapping those already in Somalia.
Somali Information Minister Ali Ahmed Jama Jengali said on Tuesday the government had established defence lines and was prepared for an attack on Baidoa.
Besides the political volatility, the impoverished nation is struggling to recover from the worst flood season in East Africa in 50 years.
At least 230 people have died from floods and related waterborne diseases since October in Kenya, Somalia, Rwanda and Ethiopia, according to the UN's World Food Programme.
The rains were supposed to end by November, but are expected to continue through January in a region where drought left the soil so dry it was unable to absorb the deluge.

posted by Ethiounited Moderator at10:41 PM


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