The Somalia Battlefield December 25, 2006 to January 3, 2007.
Heavy casualties reported after days of fighting on the Kenyan border
Just one day after a Somali military commander proclaimed military operations were over and Ras Kamboni, the al Qaeda and Islamic Courts training and communications hub where Islamic Courts fighters regrouped after being ejected from power, was under government control, reports emerge that the fighting is still ongoing. “Somalia’s Defense Minister Col. Barre “Hirale” Aden Shire said troops had yet to enter [Ras Kamboni] and that limited skirmishes were still ongoing, though troops were poised to take the base,” reports the Associated Press.
“There are a lot of casualties from both sides,” said Hirale. “I have seen about 50 injured Ethiopian troops being loaded onto a military chopper,” a resident of Kismayo told Assoicated Press. A reporter accompanying Kenyan troops said heaving fighting took place in the “no-man’s land” along the border, and seven Islamic Courts technicals were destroyed in intense air strikes. “The scene, which was littered with thousands of bullets, had a big trench that had been dug by what the Kenyan military officers believed to have been a bomb,” reports The Nation.
About 600 Islamic Courts fighters are said to be holed up in Ras Kamboni. The Ethiopians sent an armored division to the Lower Jubba region to root out the Islamic Courts remnants along the Kentan border.
Ethiopian forces continue to engage Islamic Courts fighters in the southern tip of Somalia. The Ethiopian Air Force pounded suspected Islamic Courts positions in the towns of Afmadown and Dhobley. Ethiopian forces and Somali government troops have deployed to Dhobley. Ethiopian forces also overran an Islamic Courts base in the southern jungles.
The Somali government and Ethiopian forces have uncovered further evidence of foreign involvement with the Islamic Courts. Two Oromo fighters (presumably from the Oromo Liberation Front) admitted to training and fighting along side the Islamic Courts. “I entered Somalia from Hargeysa (the capital of the secessionist government of Somaliland). I passed through Puntland (Regional government) and finally came in Mogadishu”, said Tani, an Oromo fighter in a press conference. “I was among 270 Oromos, training in Mogadishu. We were in a military camp in the capital.” Mashru Hassan, another Oromo fighter, said he trained in Eritrea before transiting to Mogadishu. “I was born in Harar, Ethiopia. I trained in Eritrea. I came to Mogadishu on 13 December last year”, he said.
See The Rise & Fall of Somalia’s Islamic Courts: An Online History for additional information on Somalia.