Africa Theater

"Declaration of war" in Niger Delta

More Nigerian government troops are being mobilized to the Niger Delta region, in preparation for military action against the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), after a militant attack on Royal Dutch Shell's Bonga oil field forced the company to halt production June 19. In a statement, President Umaru Yar'Adua said that the mobilization "does not amount to a declaration of war in the region but that the offensive by the military will be against criminality and criminals who take advantage of the situation in the Niger Delta to perpetrate criminality." (Nigerian Tribune, June 21) He appears to be indicating that the MEND are criminals, no?

Arab governments plot Somali destabilization?

Despite the supposed ceasefire, fighting again broke out between Somali insurgents and Ethiopian occupation troops in several attacks around Mogadishu June 18, leaving 11 dead. Nine were civilians; two were Somali police. (Africa News, June 19) Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf, about to leave for the signing of the peace deal in Jedda, blasted Arab governments in statements to AlJazeera—singling out the network's home, Qatar: "I want to tell the government of Qatar that the day will come when the Arab people hold accountable all those who helped destabilize Somalia.... The Qatari Government can rectify its policies towards us, and [t]his includes the hostile rhetoric used in its media outlets, starting with Al-Jazeera." (Translated from Arabic broadcast by Shabelle Media Network, June 19)

UN: Somalia crisis "worse than Darfur"

The number of people in Somalia in need of emergency food aid is likely to rise one million from the current 2.5 million in the coming months, the United Nations warns. Mark Bowden, the UN's humanitarian coordinator for the region, says Somalia faces a worse situation than Darfur. (BBC, June 16)

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.

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