Wednesday, December 27, 2006


Mogadishu, 27 Dec. (AKI) - The unrecognised de facto state of Somaliland, located in the northwest Somalia has entered the widening conflict between Somalia's Ethiopian backed transitional government and the Islamist Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) movement - on the side of the government, the Qatari state news agency reports. Somaliland soldiers are reported to be fighting alongside Ethiopian ones on the Galcayo area front.

The area is under the control of Somalia's neighbouring semi-autonomous Puntland region and former warlord Abdiqueybdid. Somaliland fighters and forces opposed to the UIC on Saturday took the city of Jalinsor, the second to fall to the anti-UIC military alliance after Bandiredley. The alliance is said to comprise Somali and Ethiopian government troops, as well as a loose alliance of Somali, Somaliland, and Punta warlords opposed to terrorism. Critics of the UIC allege it has links to the al-Qaeda terror network - claims the UIC denies.

The Arab League is meeting in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, on Wednesday to discuss the escalating violence in Somalia, which appears to be verging on a civil war threatening to draw in Ethopia's longterm enemy Eritrea on the side of the UIC as well as other powers.

The UN envoy to Somalia, Francois Lonseny Fall, has urged the Security Council to mediate to end the fighting in the war-ravaged country where 2 million people in the centre and south are also suffering the effects of flooding.

The Security Council is due to resume later on Wednesday its discussions on Somalia after the African Union (AU) on Tuesday said Ethopia has the right to intervene militarily in Somalia as the country feels threatened by the Islamic militia operating there. The UN estimates that at least 8,000 Ethopian troops may be supporting the weak transitional government based in Baidoa in southern Somalia.

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