Africa: As the war between the Islamists and Ethiopia. Here is a quick primer on Eritrea whose largest religious group is Muslim.
|MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) -- Somalia's virtually powerless government said a cargo plane that landed at the capital's airport Wednesday morning was carrying weapons for Islamic militants who have seized control of much of southern Somalia.
The Ilyushin-76 was only the second aircraft to land at Mogadishu International Airport in more than a decade of anarchy in Somalia, demonstrating the Islamic militia's total control over the capital.
The plane was carrying land mines, bombs and long-range guns from Eritrea, said Salad Ali Jeeley, a spokesman for Somalia's official government, which is based 250 kilometers (155 miles) outside Mogadishu. He said intelligence agents in Mogadishu reported what was on the plane.
"I call for the Islamic courts and the Eritrean government to stop igniting a war in Somalia," Jeeley said.
Eritrea's information minister, Ali Abdu, denied his country sent arms.
Wednesday's developments were the latest allegation of foreign interference in this troubled Horn of Africa nation, which the United States fears could become a haven for Osama bin Laden's terror network.
Foreign Muslim militants have been reported among the Islamic group's ranks. Ethiopia also has entered the fray, sending troops to support Somalia's government.
The U.N. special envoy to Somalia, Francois Lonseny Fall, said Wednesday he believes a small number of Ethiopian troops are in Somalia. On Tuesday, Fall traveled to Baidoa -- the only town controlled by the Somali government.
"During my discussions with the government, I got the clear impression that Ethiopian troops were around Baidoa, but not in the city," Francois Lonseny Fall said Wednesday from his office in neighboring Kenya.
A top U.S. official said Washington is concerned about meddling by Ethiopia and Eritrea, longtime enemies who fought a vicious border war that is still festering.
"There are external parties involved on all sides," said Jendayi Frazer, assistant secretary of state for African affairs. "This is a problem."
The Islamic group's security chief, Sheik Yusuf Indohaadde, would not offer specifics about whether the groups was getting aid from Eritrea, but said a plane "came and left safely and securely" from Mogadishu on Wednesday.|