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UN envoy in Somalia urges immediate halt to fighting

 

25 May 2006 – Condemning the resumption of armed hostilities in Somalia, the United Nations envoy in the country today urged all parties to stop fighting immediately and unconditionally.

“Somalia is already at war with nature and poverty,” said François Lonsény Fall, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, in a statement released in Nairobi. “The last thing this country needs is for its leaders to be fighting among themselves.”

Ambassador Fall said he was deeply disturbed by the fighting which has cost civilian lives and brought further insecurity to the UN humanitarian workers trying to address the serious drought situation.

“This is a time for pulling together, not for pulling further apart,” he said, urging those faction leaders in Mogadishu, who are also cabinet members in transitional federal government, to put down their arms and join the political process in Baidoa.

Prior to the current fighting, it appeared that Somali leaders were moving fast towards reconciliation. They had agreed on a transitional charter and members of the parliament were engaged in efforts to frame a constitution - the first signs of centralized governance in more than 15 years of civil strife.

“Given Somalia’s tragic recent history, these are not small achievements,” Ambassador Fall said, adding that the UN and the international community remained fully committed to building on its longstanding support for Somalia. “However, we need a country that is universally committed to security for those efforts so that we can move ahead at maximum speed.”

He said he was troubled by reports that militia of the union of the Shariah courts and the Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counter-Terrorism were deploying in and around city and supplying their lines with munitions, with external assistance in “direct breach” of the UN arms embargo.

Regardless of such violations, the UN and its agencies would continue to stay the course in Somalia, Ambassador Fall said, adding that the Organization’s humanitarian workers were operating in “emergency mode” across the spectrum of human needs in Somalia.

“There is no question,” he said, “that we will continue to deliver, as we have for decades, ramping up our support as needed in food and water supply, health care and shelter, both for local population and tens of thousands of Somalis who have been displaced by prolonged by prolonged conflict, droughts and floods.”

The Special Representative noted, however, that the serious obstacles to the national progress would remain until those “with the guns and political influence” made a strong commitment to peace and reconciliation. “The power for peace and change for the better in Somalia is in the hands of the warlords,” he said.

A fierce firefight broke out last night between the parties recently fought in Mogadishu north particularly CC area where militiamen from Islamic courts and Anti-Terror alliance are facing each other. The fire exchange comes amid efforts to negotiate warring parties by the traditional clan elders in Mogadishu.

At least one civilian has been reported wounded after straight bullet hits him in his home near Batchers Market of Yaqshid neighbourhood.

Mediating traditional elders are still optimism and working hard in achieving peace but some sources say it seems warring parties are ignoring their calls since they still keep militiamen in previous battle positions.

No changes could be seen at war places in north Mogadishu and the militiamen who still in preparation for new clashes are fading the people's hopes for final solution, our correspondent said.

It's unclear yet the cause of the renewed fire exchange between Islamic Courts Union and Anti-Terror alliance but there are still ongoing peace efforts in the capital.

Battle intensifies for Mogadishu

Islamic militiamen have taken key points in Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, as fighting intensifies with their rivals, a secular grouping of warlords.

Militiamen loyal to the Islamic Courts have isolated the warlords in the north and south of the city in fighting that claimed at least 30 lives on Thursday.

The latest upsurge in violence comes despite a truce agreement between the two groups 10 days ago.

More than 140 people died in eight days of fighting earlier this month.

The Islamic Courts grouping has gradually been gaining the upper hand. Civilians have been hiding in their homes or fleeing the fighting.

Its fighters have now cut the north-south road along the coast, taking a key crossroads known as K4 and an important nearby hotel, the Sahafi.

In earlier fighting the Islamic Courts also took an airstrip north of the capital and a road to the port.

This has left the warlords of the Anti-Terrorism Alliance with only a small pocket of support in the centre of the city, correspondents say.

In the latest fighting, the two sides pounded each other with heavy machine-gun fire, rockets, artillery and mortars as fighting spread from the north of the city to the south.

"There are so many people dead, I saw nearly 30 dead and over 40 wounded," K4 resident Abdifatah Abdikadir told Reuters news agency.

"People are being carried on wheelbarrows to the hospital with broken limbs and gunshot wounds. It's going from bad to worse."

Anti-Terrorism Alliance member Ibrahim Maalim told Reuters: "The fighting is very heavy... I have never seen such a heavy exchange. Mogadishu is blazing with fire."

Much of the fighting on Wednesday was around the CC neighbourhood in north Mogadishu.

Despite the truce brokered by local elders on 14 May both sides had amassed troops there, believing they had a right to control the area.

Elders said they had tried to contact commanders with a view to a new truce but reported neither side willing to relent.

The Anti-Terrorism Alliance includes eight warlords, among them four ministers in the current government.

Correspondents say the fighting has been fuelled by a belief that the US is backing the warlords.

The US merely says it will support those trying to stop "terrorists" setting up but stresses its commitment to the country's transitional government, which functions from Baidoa, 250km (155 miles) north-west of the capital.

Somalia has had no full government since the overthrow of President Siad Barre in 1991 but this year's clashes have been the worst in the capital for more than a decade.

Several ministers involved in the fighting are reported to have resigned from the transitional government, saying that others in the administration had not been doing enough to stem the unrest.

Reports say their resignations came as they failed to meet a government ultimatum to join the rest of the ministers in Baidoa.

But Security Minister Mohammed Qanyare Afrah later denied he had resigned.

Fresh Fire Exchange Renews Mogadishu North

A fierce firefight broke out last night between the parties recently fought in Mogadishu north particularly CC area where militiamen from Islamic courts and Anti-Terror alliance are facing each other.

The fire exchange comes amid efforts to negotiate warring parties by the traditional clan elders in Mogadishu.

At least one civilian has been reported wounded after straight bullet hits him in his home near Batchers Market of Yaqshid neighbourhood.

Mediating traditional elders are still optimism and working hard in achieving peace but some sources say it seems warring parties are ignoring their calls since they still keep militiamen in previous battle positions.

No changes could be seen at war places in north Mogadishu and the militiamen who still in preparation for new clashes are fading the people's hopes for final solution, our correspondent said.

It's unclear yet the cause of the renewed fire exchange between Islamic Courts Union and Anti-Terror alliance but there are still ongoing peace efforts in the capital.


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