MOGADISHU, Somalia – Fighters belonging to a militant Islamist movement fled into a rugged, forested corner of Somalia from rapidly advancing government forces Monday, and the prime minister offered amnesty if they surrendered.
Regional diplomats worked to arrange the speedy deployment of African peacekeepers to help the interim government establish its authority in the country, which has known only anarchy for 15 years.
As the last remaining stronghold of the Islamic group was overrun by government troops backed by Ethiopian tanks and MiG fighter jets, the net began closing on suspected al-Qaida militants believed to be sheltered by the hard-line group.
Neighboring Kenya vowed to seal its frontier to prevent any extremists, now wedged against the sea and their border, from escaping the 13-day military offensive.
Sea routes from southern Somalia were also being patrolled by the U.S. Navy, hunting for three al-Qaida suspects believed to be among the Islamic group and wanted for the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in East Africa.
“Kenya cannot be a haven for people who are not wanted by their lawful government,” Kenyan government spokesman Alfred Matua said.
Thousands of Somalis have fled their homes in the wake of advancing Ethiopian and government forces, but most have returned to their homes once the fighting subsided. The U.N. refugee agency has sent supplies to the Kenyan border as a precaution, but so far there has been no increase in the number of Somalis seeking refuge in Kenya, said Christian Balslev-Olesen, country director for Kenya for UNICEF.
The military advance marked a stunning turnaround for Somalia’s government, which just weeks ago could barely control one town — its base of Baidoa — while the Council of Islamic Courts controlled the capital and much of southern Somalia.
But with the intervention of Ethiopia, which has one of Africa’s largest armies, the Islamic group has been forced from the capital of Mogadishu and other key towns in the last 10 days. Its casualties run into the thousands, Ethiopia said.
The article goes on to note that the radical Islamists have vowed to fight an “Iraq-style guerilla war” if defeated.
Hat tip to Captain Ed, who writes:
The Islamists can expect no peace, however. The Ethiopian air force scoured the coast for Islamists attempting to reach the harbors of Kenya, specifically Ras Kamboni, where they have a center of operations. The collapse of their hold in Somalia has punctured the myth of invincibility of these supposed holy warriors and exposed as lies their pledges to fight to the death to hold the ummah. Now that they have shown their true colors, the armies of Kenya and Ethiopia will have little trouble wiping up what’s left of the terrorist and tyrranous Arab and South Asian militias.
Once again, this shows the West how to properly square off against Islamist forces. Only by conducting a true war with massive, overwhelming force will these terrorists be destroyed.
Fortunately neither Somalia nor Ethiopia are hamstrung like we are by political correctness and do gooders within their governments, media, and the United Nations who believe that if we just ‘understood’ the enemy that we could all get along together in peace and harmony. Hats off to Somalia and the Ethiopians in this imporatant – and hopefully sustainable – victory in the war on terror.
More than a thousand Somalis gathered in Minneapolis on Saturday to call for Ethiopian troops to withdraw immediately from Somalia.
Their protest capped a week in which transitional government troops retook Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital, with the backing of Ethiopian infantrymen.
The U.S. government “gave the green light” to Ethiopia to work in concert with the transitional federal government in Somalia, and that action was “totally wrong,” said Hassan Mohamud.
He is the president of the Somali Institute for Peace and Justice in Minneapolis, which organized Saturday’s rally.
“We ask the president of the United States, Mr. Bush, and his administration to stop supporting the terrorists. Ethiopian troops are terrorists,” Mohamud said to a cheering crowd.
Somali men, women and children gathered Saturday morning in Peavey Park in Minneapolis, and they carried an array of signs. Some said “No more war” and “Islam is the solution.”