With MIG aircraft attacking runways of airports, the fighting in the Horn of Africa has grown into a new dimension. The leader of the Islamic militia, Sheik Hassan Dahir Aweys, flew into Mogadishu shortly after the attack and it was not clear if he was an intended target.
Analysts also say that infusion of Ethiopian fighters and air attacks seem to have saved the interim government from being over-run. Washington and Addis Ababa say that the SICC) is supported by the al Qaeda and Ethiopia’s enemy Eritrea. The internationally recognized government in Baidoa is largely symbolic as it controls a very small portion of the nation and the capital Mogadishu has been taken over by the Islamists. This government says that it has shut the borders giving Ethiopia the ruse to bomb the airports claiming that “illegal flights” presumably carrying arms and to carry “extremists” who waiting for an airlift out of Mogadishu.”
The SICC calls Ethiopia and the government “crusaders” and has vowed to “strike Addis Ababa the way they hit Mogadishu” and “even if it means getting weapons from outside.” They claim broad popular support for effort to restore order to Somalia under Islamic Shariah law after years of anarchy since the 1991 ouster of Dictator Siad Barre. There is an element of truth in this claim as the airport was opened after a decade. Claiming to represent the majority Sunni Muslims, the SICC is accusing a Christian majority Ethiopia of worsening border situations—both nations have fought two border wars.
Ethiopian troops also seem to have taken control of Baladwayne after bombing out the Islamists and encircled Dinsoor and Buur Hakaba. Meanwhile, reports suggest that the Islamists have retreated more than 30 miles to the southeast from Daynuney, a town just south of Baidoa after being bombed out of their forward positions. The Islamists have also abandoned their main stronghold in Bur Haqaba and were forming convoys headed toward the capital, Mogadishu. They have also vacated Belet Weyne, on the Somali-Ethiopian border along the Shabelle River and Ethiopian troops entered the town without a shot being fired and received warmly by the locals. Government and Ethiopian troops also entered the northern town of Bulo Barde where an Islamic cleric threatened execution of those who did not pray five times day. The Ethiopian television also reported that the coalition forces will move toward the city of Jowhar which is about 55 miles from Mogadishu capturing several villages. However, coalition troops are still trying to push back Islamist forces barely 12 miles south of Baidoa using heavy artillery and mortar fire.