Friday, December 29, 2006

Story of swift Somali victory

Africa: Via Reuters as the Ethiopian army just ran over the Islamists or the Islamists ran over each other to get away.

MOODE MOODE, Somalia, Dec 28 (Reuters) - The bloated corpses of Islamist fighters and an unbroken line of tank tracks along the Baidoa-Mogadishu highway tell the story of a swift advance for the Somali government and its Ethiopian allies. For at least 80 km (50 miles) east of the government's base Baidoa, spent shells from heavy guns litter the road along which the battle for control for the Horn of Africa nation has played out over the last 10 days. At least two dozen bodies of Islamist fighters, swollen by the sun, lie in the thorny bush of Moode Moode, the closest the Islamists reached to the government seat before being thrashed back by combined Somali-Ethiopian military might. Some 50 km (30 miles) east of Baidoa, residents of Buur Hakaba said the gunmen of the Somalia Islamic Courts Council (SICC) had left the town far faster than they arrived. "We thought they would be fighting back and equipping themselves, but they were busy changing clothes," said 40-year-old local Deros Mohammed Ibrahim.
There was also a box of dates marked "Gift from the Government of Saudi Arabia", perhaps lending credence to a United Nations commission report accusing at least 10 foreign nations of fuelling the battle for the anarchic nation.
The Islamists had controlled Buur Hakaba for more then two months and massed troops there for their assault on Baidoa. But residents -- who complained the SICC had drastically cut the highway commerce the town survives on and imposed a brand of Islam too harsh for local customs -- said its fighters had been quick to swap their fatigues for civilian clothes. Many said they were happy to see the back of them. "I am very glad. I did not expect them to lose so swiftly and I thank Allah for their failure," said one local. Another resident, 56-year-old Sheikh Ali Hassan, agreed. "They have been here 65 days and I have never seen such abuse and harassment," he told Reuters. "We have been Muslims for thousands of years. We have not been missing religion, we have been missing a government."

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