The Spaghetti Factory War
Meanwhile, Le Monde's Jean-Philippe Rémy reports on the Sphaghetti Factory war.
Mogadishu's urban guerrilla may be laying a trap for Ethiopian troops...The military capability of the insurgents, a coalition of fighters from the former Islamic Court and clans has been underestimated.
According to the UN, the group could number as many as 3,000 fighters...Not only have they been able to resist an Ethiopian's heavy artillery offensive, but they have put the forces of Addis-Abeba in difficulty in several areas, where they are continuously hemmed in by highly-mobile insurgents.
This first phase of combat left hundreds of people dead over four days and provoked an exodus of the city's population without preventing the insurgents from controlling vast sectors of the capital, leaving only a few pockets where Ethiopian forces hang on.
Now, in the second phase, Addis-Abeba has intensified its operations. Quarters held by insurgents are under rocket attack from the presidential palace of Villa Somalia, the stronghold of the Ethiopians, since April 19ths.
The Ethiopians have been attempting to reinforce their troops in Mogadishu during the last few weeks. A 40-vehicle convoy entered the city from the south in an attempt to surround rebel positions in the north of the city.
As new fronts open up in the Somali capital, the objective of Ethiopian troops is a spaghetti factory and its environs, serving as a base for the insurgents where they run a hospital for their wounded and enjoy the _total_ support of the population. The insurgents have once again gone on the offensive by harassing the Ethiopians with mortars and anti-aircraft artillery but "vanishing" when they are pounded by artillery from the presidential palace or the former military academy. According to a well-informed source, Ethiopian forces are once again surrounded by insurgents in various points of the city. The insurgents now have anti-tank weapons which are likely to further dog the operations of the Ethiopian army.
Friday, after two days of combat, a human rights organization close to the resisting clans estimates the number of civilians killed a 113 and wounded at 229.
While the intensification of combat threatens to destroy parts of city, an UN source complains: "With the bombardment of civilians and refugee camps, what is happening in Mogadishu could be considered a war crime."
Meanwhile, the [so-called] Somali President, Abdullahi Yusuf, is in Addis-Abeba, where he declared that the situation was not worsening.
According to a report by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, a large consensus is in favor of "a phased withdraw of Ethiopian troops and the full deployment of African Union Troops [mostly Ugandans, who are by and large Christians--Nur] who could instill confidence in the population and assist in calming tensions."