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/ 6 May 2008

Amnesty: Civilians targeted in Somalia conflict

All parties in Somalia’s conflict have carried out rights abuses including executions, rape and torture, Amnesty International said on Tuesday, adding there were reports Ethiopian soldiers had slit civilians’ throats. Mogadishu’s whole population is scarred from witnessing or suffering such abuses, it said in its 32-page report.

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/ 18 April 2008

Somali cops free detained journalists

Police in Somalia have released five journalists and allowed their radio station to resume broadcasting, members of staff said on Friday. The Radio Voice Peace journalists were released overnight hours after they were detained for the station’s coverage of an attack on Wednesday night by Islamist insurgents in Mogadishu’s KM4 neighbourhood.

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/ 9 April 2008

Islamist rebels seize strategic Somali town again

Islamist fighters in Somalia seized a strategic town north of Mogadishu on Wednesday for the second time in a fortnight, a spokesperson for the insurgents said. Jowhar is the most significant of several towns the rebels have captured in recent months, highlighting the inability of the Western-backed interim government to impose its authority.

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/ 2 April 2008

Somali Islamist leader commits to new peace plan

Somalia’s top exiled Islamist leader on Wednesday pledged his camp’s commitment to a new peace drive but warned the movement would keep up its struggle against what it calls Ethiopian occupation. "Members of the international community are trying to help Somalis overcome their differences and we will do all we can," Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed said.

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/ 27 March 2008

Somali Islamists plot more hit-and-run raids

Somalia’s Islamist insurgents vowed on Thursday to launch more hit-and-run attacks against the government, saying their tactics were designed to reduce civilian casualties. Islamist fighters briefly seized the town of Jowhar, north of Mogadishu, on Wednesday, highlighting the interim government’s inability to assert its authority.

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/ 26 March 2008

Six killed as Somali Islamists raid key town

Four Somali soldiers and two civilians were killed on Wednesday when Islamist fighters raided a key southern town, sparking clashes, officials and a local resident said. The Islamists briefly took control of Jowhar township, 90km north of the capital Mogadishu, looted government vehicles and offices and released prisoners.

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/ 21 March 2008

World ignores ‘failed state’ of Somalia

The international community must overcome its reluctance to get involved in Somalia and help put an end to abuses there, a special United Nations envoy said on Thursday. ”While more people are talking about Somalia, there is still little action to stop the violence,” Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah told the Security Council during a debate on whether to send UN peacekeepers to the East African country.

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/ 31 January 2008

Kenya crisis set to dominate AU summit

African Union heads of state were set on Thursday to begin a three-day summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, focused on the deadly crisis in Kenya and the challenges facing the body’s peacekeeping missions. United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was expected to address the organisation and call for a peaceful resolution of the post-poll dispute in Kenya.

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/ 29 January 2008

AU seeks to improve conflict-solving

The African Union starts a heads-of-state summit in Addis Ababa on Thursday seeking to bolster the body’s capacity to solve conflicts such as the crises in Darfur and Somalia. Since its inception in 2002, the pan-African body has lacked the funds and political drive to take effective action on the continent’s flashpoints.

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/ 25 January 2008

Islamist rebels conduct raid on Somali airfield

Islamist insurgents briefly seized control of Somalia’s biggest military airfield on Friday and looted weapons, witnesses and an Islamist commander said. Muktar Ali Robow, leader of the al-Shabab rebel militia, told a local radio station his forces also captured government troops during the raid on Baledogle, about 100km west of the capital, Mogadishu.

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/ 23 December 2007

Aid workers face uphill battle in Somalia

The handful of grain Abiye Omar clutches in her skinny hand has travelled a long way from the fertile fields of America’s Midwest to the desolate Somali seaside town of Merka. It has sailed on a relief ship through seas plagued by pirates and sharks, then been carried ashore by porters into the hands of aid workers who have to contend with bandits, arsonists and insurgents.

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/ 7 December 2007

UN alarmed by widespread rape in Mogadishu

The United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) representative for Somalia on Friday voiced his concern at the increasing number of rape cases in the country’s war-torn capital, Mogadishu. "Sexual violence and rape are part of the game now," Christian Balslev-Olesen said at a press briefing on the deteriorating access to health in Mogadishu.

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/ 5 December 2007

Somali leader in hospital as Islamist rejects talks

Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf spent a second day in hospital on Wednesday with a condition some sources called very serious but an envoy said was a routine check-up for an old liver transplant. In a tumultuous week for Somali politics, an exiled Islamist leader rejected a call by Somalia’s new prime minister for talks to try to end 16 years of conflict.

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/ 4 December 2007

UN: Somalia freezes aid operations in south-east

The Somali government has frozen aid activities in a south-eastern region most affected by the country’s growing humanitarian crisis, a United Nations spokesperson told reporters on Tuesday. The new restrictions ban all humanitarian flights to the Lower Shabelle region’s airports, World Food Programme spokesperson Peter Smerdon said.

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/ 4 December 2007

Somali president flown to hospital amid walkout

Turmoil struck the Somali government on Tuesday as a fifth minister resigned in a power-sharing dispute a day after being appointed, and the president was urgently flown to a hospital in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi. A security official described President Abdullahi Yusuf (72) as being in a ”serious condition” when he arrived in Nairobi on Tuesday.

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/ 12 November 2007

Troops hunt insurgents in emptying Somali capital

Somali and Ethiopian troops shut down Mogadishu’s main market in a search for Islamist insurgents on Sunday after fighting that has killed at least 60 people and driven tens of thousands from the Somali capital. Rights groups have criticised the Ethiopians for failing to distinguish between civilian and insurgent targets.

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/ 8 November 2007

Slain Ethiopian soldier dragged through streets

Civilians dragged the body of an Ethiopian soldier through the streets of Somalia’s capital on Thursday after fighting with insurgents killed a second soldier and civilian, witnesses said. In the grisly incident, more than 100 civilians stepped and spat on the scarred body as they dragged it for several kilometres on a pot-holed asphalt road.

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/ 6 November 2007

Ethiopia says it wants talks, not war with Eritrea

Ethiopia on Tuesday said it had no plans to go to war with rival Eritrea over their disputed border, and again urged Asmara to pull its troops back and begin dialogue over marking the frontier. Ethiopia’s comments came a day after the International Crisis Group warned the two nations could easily slide into a repeat of their 1998 to 2000 border war.

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/ 30 October 2007

UN: Weekend fighting drives 36 000 from Mogadishu

About 36 000 Somalis have fled Mogadishu after weekend fighting, the worst in months between Ethiopian troops backing the interim government and Islamist-led rebels, the United Nations refugee agency said on Tuesday. Most of the displaced headed for the town of Afgooye, 30km to the west, which is already struggling to cope with 100 000 people.

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/ 23 October 2007

Somalia releases UN food agency chief

Somali authorities on Tuesday released the local head of the World Food Programme, who was seized nearly a week ago when government forces stormed a United Nations compound in Mogadishu. "He is safely back in the office. He was brought by some government officers as well as local UN staffers," a UN official said in Mogadishu.

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/ 21 October 2007

Rebels claim they killed 140 Ethiopian troops

Ethiopia’s Ogaden National Liberation Front rebels said they killed 140 government soldiers in a weekend assault targeting a senior official, a statement Ethiopia immediately denounced as false. Both sides routinely claim to inflict large numbers of casualties on the other, but the reports are difficult to independently verify.