Conflict has intensified in Somalia, where the capital Mogadishu has entered its fourth day of heavy fighting between warlords and what are being described as Islamic extremists by the UN Security Council. Some 120 people have died.
The UN says the latter have emerged as a “third force” in the country, competing with the transitional government and an alliance of warlord groups based in the capital. The UN is investigating claims that an unnamed country is secretly supporting the self-styled Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counter-Terrorism. The title is, some are claiming, a bid to win US backing.
Last week, Somalia’s Interim President Abdullahi Yusuf named Washington as the warlord’s supporter. Somalia has had no effective government since 1991, when warlords deposed the military dictator and then started fighting each other.
The US has long seen Somalia as a nest of terrorism but despite claims al-Qaeda agents have been active in Mogadishu, Somalis have not traditionally held hard-line Islamic views. An international arms embargo is increasingly being broken.