The Fall of Ras Kamboni
An unnamed senior Islamic Courts leader is captured in Kenya after Ras Kamboni is taken following five days of heavy fighting
The al Qaeda and Islamic Courts base in Ras Kamboni, which sits on the southernmost tip of Somalia, has fallen to the joint Ethiopian and Somali assault force, according to Colonel Barre "Hirale" Aden Shire, the Somali Minister of Defense. After five days of heavy fighting, "Ethiopian forces and MiG fighter jets chased fleeing Islamic fighters into nearby forests and the fighting would continue," reports Shabelle.
While casualties have not been made public, an American intelligence force informs us there were significant casualties were taken on both sides. The initial number of 600 Islamic Courts fighters defending Ras Kamboni appears to be low, according to a military intelligence source, as the defense of the last Islamic Courts stronghold was fierce.
The Associated Press reported "Kenyan police arrested a top leader in Somalia's Islamic militant movement on Monday," and intimates Hassan Dahir Aweys or Sheikh Sharif Ahmed may have been captured. Our intelligence source indicates the Islamic Courts leader captured in Kenya is an unnamed commander of the base in Ras Kamboni. The major Islamic Courts leaders, including Aweys and Sharif, appear to have fled to Yemen, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere.
In Garrisa, Kenya, the police arrested 7 Islamist Somalis after a shootout in Garissa, while another ten escaped. The Kenyans have deployed 3 platoons of soldiers, along with Kenyan Air Force assets, along the Somali border since the outbreak of fighting.
The United States Department of Defense continues to claim a limited U.S. role in Somalia. Last week's attack against wanted al Qaeda terrorists al-Sundani and Fazul Mohammed was "the only air strike conducted there," a Pentagon spokesman told World Politics Watch. Our sources tell a different story, with repeated air strikes against Islamic Courts targets, as well as operations conducted by Special Forces teams. The redeployment of the aircraft carrier USS Eisenhower from the Persian Gulf to the waters off the Somali coast during heightened tensions with Iran highlights the importance of the Somali mission.
In Mogadishu, what appears to be the beginning of an insurgency is unfolding. Shabelle reports a joint Ethiopian and Somali government patrol was ambushed by "unknown gunmen" with RPGs and small arms. "Witnesses said one of the government military vehicles was blazing as heavy exchanges of gunfire followed." Two Somali troops were killed and three wounded after an ambush in the Lower Shabelle region.
The Somali government is countering by conducting house to house searches to confiscate heavy weapons from militias. The Somali government had shut down 3 radio stations and Al Jazeera television after claiming the stations are "jeopardizing the government's efforts to secure Mogadishu by fueling and magnifying the actions of few bandits in the city." BBC Somali Service was also warned it may be closed. The stations are now back on the air. The government is also searching for African nations to provide troops to secure the country in the interim. Uganda, Nigeria, South Africa, Senegal, Benin, Malawi and Ghana are candidates for volunteering forces.
See The Rise & Fall of Somalia's Islamic Courts: An Online History for additional information on Somalia.