Saturday, January 3, 2009

Daggers drawn up north

International media is abuzz with news about the departure of Ethiopian troops from Somalia yet up north, the unrecognized breakaway Republic of Somaliland and the State of Puntland have daggers drawn as each gears up for the much-awaited Presidential elections. The current standoff is in the town of Widhwidh in the Cayn province claimed by both sides. Unreliable sources claim that the commander of the Somaliland Army responsible for military operations in Cayn has been killed by Dhulbahante clan loyalists when the officer brought in ballot boxes meant for the Presidential elections for Somaliland.

According to reports in the local media houses, a number of unaccounted for civilians and military personnel died in the ensuing battles. Both sides, Somaliland and Puntland are mobilizing forces in order to secure the Cayn region that attracted much publicity in the last few years.

On the other hand, Ethiopian troops have begun complete withdrawal from bases in southern Somalia. The power vacuum left by the departing Ethiopian troops have attracted various armed groups and created scuffles in and around the capital city, Mogadishu. Some of the vacated police stations are now in the hands of the forces of the Union Courts headed by Sheikh Sharif Ahmed while there are also reports that the militant group Al-Shabab is flexing muscles and sweeping vacant stations in Mogadishu. Thus, the departure of Ethiopian troops is a harbinger for renewed fighting in the north and south of Somalia as well.

Likewise, premeditated attacks on the African Union peace keeping forces in Mogadishu have intensified with increased mortar fire and heavy artillery becoming the order of the day. For the moment, things will get worse until winner takes all.

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