Africa Theater

Puntland protesters burn Eritrean flag

The flag of Eritrea was set on fire June 16 in Garoowe, capital of the autonomous Somali region of Puntland, in what local authorities called a protest "to condemn the Eritrean attack on Djibouti." The autonomous government's ministers were among those who oversaw the ritual flag-burning amid chants of "Down with Eritrea, Victory to Djibouti!"

French missile sinks Eritrean gunboat off Djibouti?

Somali newspaper Somaliland Times website reported June 15 that at least one Eritrean gunboat was sunk after being hit by a missile. All the crew are believed dead, sources said. It is not known whether the missile was fired by French warships or the Djiboutian navy. Eritrea has reportedly been using two gunboats to fire on Djiboutian ground troops attempting to dislodge Eritrean forces from positions within Djiboutian territory they seized June 10. (Asmara Gazette, June 16)

Ethiopia: "crimes against humanity" in Ogaden

From Human Rights Watch, June 12:

Ethiopia: Army Commits Executions, Torture, and Rape in Ogaden

In its battle against rebels in eastern Ethiopia’s Somali Region, Ethiopia's army has subjected civilians to executions, torture, and rape, Human Rights Watch said in a new report released today. The widespread violence, part of a vicious counterinsurgency campaign that amounts to war crimes and crimes against humanity, has contributed to a looming humanitarian crisis, threatening the survival of thousands of ethnic Somali nomads.

Eritrea at war with Djibouti; France into the breach

As the UN Security Council, Arab League and African Union urge Eritrea to halt military action against neighboring Djibouti, French officers stationed in the Horn of Africa mini-state say that France is providing Djibouti with military support—and preparing to send more troops and war material. Speaking to the official Agence Djiboutienne d'Information (ADI), a French officer identified as Col. Ducret said French forces are "providing assistance in logistics, medical [and] intelligence service to the Djiboutian army."

Somalia violence escalates; insurgents take war to Ethiopia

An estimated 100 people were killed and thousands fled their homes in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, in renewed fighting over the weekend following between Ethiopian troops and insurgents. Another 200 were wounded as the Bakara market, Somalia's largest open-air market, was hit by artillery fire. The fighting started when Ethiopian and Somali government forces moved into the restive Yaqshid and Wardigley districts.

Ethiopia: Mengistu sentenced to death in absentia

In late 2006, when Mengistu Haile Mariam was found guilty of genocide by an Ethiopian court, we noted the irony that the verdict came as charges of mass killings of ethnic minorities were mounting against the current Ethiopian regime. Mengistu is now sentenced to death—just as Amnesty International has issued a report accusing Ethiopia of war crimes in Somalia. From AlJazeera, May 26:

Niger Delta militants hit Shell pipeline

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) said in a statement May 26 its fighters had sabotaged Shell Oil's "major trunk pipeline" at Awoba flow station, and killed 11 soldiers in an ensuing gun battle. Sagir Musa, military spokesman in Nigeria's Rivers state, dismissed the claims as "mischievous lies... There was no attack on the facility and none of our soldiers were killed." But a spokesman for Shell Petroleum Development Corporation said: "SPDC can confirm an attack on the Nembe Creek trunk line at Awoba," adding that an overflight had revealed some oil had spilled. "We have mobilised equipment to contain a further spread of oil," the spokesman said. (Sydney Morning Herald, May 27; AlJazeera, May 26)

Egypt expels Darfur rebel reps in growing crackdown

Egyptian authorities escalated their crackdown on Darfur rebel groups maintaining offices in Cairo, expelling Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) representative Hafiz Youcif Hamoda from the country. The move comes with increasing pressure on Sudanese migrants and refugees in Egypt.

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