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Islamic Courts brace for war
PostPosted: Sat Nov 25, 2006 11:36 am Reply with quote
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Islamic Courts brace for war
25/11/2006 12:13 - (SA)

Mogadishu - Somalia's Islamic Courts said on Saturday that it had poured thousands of fighters and heavy equipment into frontline positions as they braced for clashes with the weak government and its Ethiopian allies.

The courts said it had reinforced areas outside the government seat of Baidoa, about 250km northwest of Mogadishu, anticipating imminent attack and accusing neighbouring Ethiopia of sending air power.

"We are completely ready here in the frontlines and keeping inside our trenches," court military chief Sheikh Muktar Robow told AFP. "We are facing Ethiopian invaders. The only thing we expect is the start of battle.

"The Ethiopians have brought warplanes, including helicopters, and even heavy tanks to Baidoa and they are intending to wage an attack against us and we are ready for that."

The courts and the Ethiopian-backed government have been girding for all-out war near Baidoa for weeks, since the collapse of peace talks earlier this month. Both have stepped up preparations in recent days.

Camps 20km apart

The courts have declared holy war on Ethiopian troops in Somalia protecting the transitional government.

Robow said his fighters had full confidence in winning the battle against the "forces of the devil".

Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi told the Somali parliament on Thursday that Addis Ababa had taken the necessary preparations for war with the courts, which he accused of posing a "clear and present danger" to his country.

Fighters from all sides are encamped at positions less than 20km apart, near the court-held towns of Mode Mode and Burhakaba areas.

Residents said they had seen an unprecedented amount of gunmen in the area and have expressed fear for their lives.

"I have never seen such a huge number of fighters around Burhakaba," said resident Osman Ibarahim Rafiyo.

"I saw more than 56 armed vehicles and thousands of Islamic militias pouring into the battlefield. I think this fighting will take more lives than expected."

Ethiopia has watched the rise of the Islamic Courts, which seized Mogadishu in June and now control most of southern and central Somalia, with concern.

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Islamic Courts brace for war
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