Sunday, December 31, 2006

Ethiopians Pounding Islamists

Who knew the Ethiopians could kick butt like this? All I know is I'd like them to continue.

Artillery rains down on Somali Islamist bastion.
Somali government forces and Ethiopian allies rained down mortars and rockets on Islamist fighters dug in near a southern port town on Sunday to start a battle that could be the last stand for the Islamists.

As night fell, the Islamists who fled Mogadishu three days ago to take refuge around the towns of Kismayu and nearby Jilib, fired back from trenches in scrubby bushland, witnesses said.

"We will continue fighting the Ethiopians from everywhere until they leave Somalia," Islamist spokesman Abdirahim Ali Mudey told Reuters from the area.

It was unclear if, after two weeks of war, the two sides would go on fighting through the night and into the New Year. Night battles are unusual in Somalia.

The besieged Somalia Islamic Courts Council (SICC) has rallied several thousand fighters at Jilib, just north of the port town of Kismayu on the shores of the Indian Ocean, after a retreat south 300 km (190 miles) from the capital Mogadishu.

Fearing a blood-bath, residents ran for their lives, carrying blankets, food and water on their heads.

"Two-thirds of the population in Jilib have fled the town... nearly 4,700 have fled," aid worker Osman Mohamed said.

The Islamists have built trenches with bulldozers and have more than 60 "technicals" -- pickups mounted with heavy weapons -- supporting some 3,000 fighters, witnesses say.

"We decided to come to the bush here in order to continue with the jihad against Ethiopia. I am on the frontline, I'm just waiting to kill the invading Ethiopians," spokesman Mudey added.

More here.

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