The leader of the Union of
Islamic Courts, which controls the capital and much of
southern Somalia, says they are in a state of war with
The government is
getting military help from Ethiopia
"All Somalis should take part in
this struggle against Ethiopia," Sheikh Hassan Dahir
Aweys said from Mogadishu.
Fresh heavy fighting is reported
near the weak Somali government's Baidoa base, amid
fears conflict could plunge the entire Horn of Africa
Local residents say Ethiopian
troops are clashing with Islamist militias.(Hoos
markaad eegtid waxaad ogaanaysaa in laga tagay oo loo
bedelay dagaal u dhexeeya soomaali halka dadkii goob
joogayaasha ah sidaas kor ku qoran sheegayaan------ wali
maku haysaa wariyahooda jooga Baydhabo oo sheegay
dhaawacyada iyo maydadka lagu daadguraynayo
Ethiopia denies its forces are
battling the advancing Islamist militias.
The two countries have a long
history of troubled relations, and Islamists have long
called for a holy war against Ethiopian troops in Baidoa.
Both the Islamist and interim
government agreed to a ceasefire and to unconditional
talks on Wednesday after meetings with a visiting
European Union envoy.
But there has been no let up on
the ground, with heavy artillery and mortar fire heard
in Daynunay, some 20 km (12 miles) from Baidoa where the
government has a military base.
Local media report bodies strewn
along streets. Both sides claim to have killed and
wounded dozens of fighters.
Somalia's Deputy Defence
Minister Salad Ali Jelle told reporters in Baidoa that
71 Islamic fighters had been killed and 221 injured so
far during clashes in three locations.
Louis Michel pressed
both sides to resume negotiations
But in Mogadishu, UIC official
Sheik Mohamud Ibrahim Suley claimed his fighters had
killed 70 fighters, mainly Ethiopian troops.
Neither claim can be
As the shelling continued close
to Baidoa, Mr Aweys urged all Somalis to take up the
struggle against Ethiopia.
"If you cannot fight you can
contribute in other ways to the effort," he said.
After talks in Baidoa and
Mogadishu on Wednesday, EU envoy Louis Michel announced
both parties had agreed to resume efforts to find a
negotiated settlement of their differences.
A nine-point memorandum of
understanding included agreement to begin talks again
without preconditions, he said.
The UIC set aside a demand that
Ethiopian troops withdraw from Somalia as a precondition
for talks, Mr Michel added, although it remained a major
Mr Michel has urged both sides
to begin talks as soon as possible, at the latest early
Both sides have blamed each
other for the fighting.
The UIC has introduced law and
order to the capital and much of southern Somalia for
the first time in 15 years and denies links to al-Qaeda.
Ethiopia has admitted to having
some military trainers in Somalia, but our correspondent
says that as he drove to the airport in Baidoa on
Wednesday, he was stopped by a huge convoy of Ethiopian
The United Nations estimates
that at least 8,000 Ethiopian troops may be in the
country backing the government while regional rival
Eritrea has deployed some 2,000 troops in support of the
Source: British Broadcasting
Corporation World Service...