Somalia: May 16, 2002



Ethiopia has vehemently denied any involvement in a 15 May attack on the Somali border town of Bulo Hawo, but the Transitional National Government of Somalia is sticking to its accusations and further says that Ethiopian troops have abducted and killed a local warlord. 

The fighting is believed to be between militias loyal to Somalia's shaky Transitional National Government (TNG) and backers of the Somali Reconciliation and Restoration Council (SRRC) [a loose coalition of opposition warlords]. SRRC leader Hussein Aideed claimed that the fighting was an internal affair between factions within the Somali National Front (SNF) and that Ethiopia was not involved.

Armored vehicles entered the town of Bula Hawa (two kilometers from the Kenyan border) at around 09:30 local time, after troops attacked with artillery and mortar rounds. One refugee saw dozens of bodies lying in streets of the town. Most of the estimated 20,000 residents fled the fighting, even though the fighting was over by noon.

Eyewitnesses who got across the Kenyan border told the BBC's Hassan Barise in Mogadishu that at least two people had been killed and four injured when Ethiopian soldiers attacked Bulo Hawo. 

Ethiopia has been supplying arms to Somali militias since 1996. With the help of the Ethiopian army, Colonel Abdullahi Yussuf Ahmed retook control of Puntland by ousting his rival, Jama Ali Jama. Colonel Abdullahi Yusuf captured the port of Bosaso (the commercial capital of the self-declared autonomous region of Puntland, northeastern Somalia) on the 8th. Yusuf had led a force of between 500 and 800 militia, supported by 30 "technicals" (light trucks mounting heavy weapons). 

Jama and his forces were regrouping in Qardho, 220 km south of Bosaso, sources in Garowe, the region's administrative capital.

SRRC co-chairman Aideed told the press in Addis Ababa on 9 May that Somalia would have no peace as long as it had a government backed by Arab states. However, the SRRC lost Bula Hawa to Colonel Abdirizak Issak Bihi earlier in May. - Adam Geibel


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