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Cablegate: Somali Tfg Arms Sweep Begins--Heavy Fighting

VZCZCXRO1454
OO RUEHDE RUEHROV RUEHTRO
DE RUEHNR #1302 0801523
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 211523Z MAR 07
FM AMEMBASSY NAIROBI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8433
INFO RUCNSOM/SOMALIA COLLECTIVE
RHMFIUU/CJTF HOA
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RHMFIUU/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL

UNCLAS NAIROBI 001302

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AF/E AND A/S FRAZER

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PTER ASEC MOPS SO ET UG
SUBJECT: Somali TFG Arms Sweep Begins--Heavy Fighting


1. (U) Multiple sources report that heavy fighting between TFG
forces and
insurgents began in Mogadishu around 0600 this morning, March 21.
Press
reporting indicated that Ethiopian troops and tanks were supporting
TFG troops;
but by mid-afternoon, contacts in Mogadishu were reporting that the
Ethiopian
forces were less visible on the streets. Fighting was concentrated
in two
neighborhoods: Shirkole near the Ethiopian HQ at the former Ministry
of Defense
and across town in the vicinity of the Hotel Ramadan; but there are
reports of
more widespread shelling in the city and of large fires in Bakara
Market.
Sporadic fighting continues.

2. (U) As of 1400 local, sources in Mogadishu were reporting up to
60 dead and
60 wounded. An Ethiopian political official admitted to 34 Ethiopian
casualties
in the day's fighting. Insurgents claimed to have captured up to 12
TFG
soldiers. Press and Mogadishu contacts report that the bodies of
between two
and five dead TFG and/or Ethiopian soldiers (they were the same
uniform) were
dragged through the streets and set afire. Pictures are being posted
on several
Somali news websites, as well as on Al Jazeera.

3. (U) According to local sources in Mogadishu, TFG forces
initially seemed to
have the upper hand, but insurgents were seen to be gaining by
mid-afternoon.
These sources reported that the TFG had not made any statements about
the day's
events, leaving the residents to wonder whether the insurgents might
actually
have defeated government forces.

4. (SBU) Comment. The Somali Ambassador to Kenya stated at a press
conference
today in Nairobi that this battle was the beginning of the
long-expected effort
by the TFG to confiscate civilian arms in Mogadishu. Numerous
sources were
indicating that this planned operation was engendering wide-spread
popular anger
in the city toward the TFG. Whether or not the TFG is ultimately
successful in
this endeavor, popular resentment could make it difficult to hold a
meaningful
National Reconciliation Conference as scheduled in mid-April.

5. (SBU) Comment continued. The reported absence of Ethiopian
combat support
for TFG forces will make it difficult for the government's mostly
inexperienced
troops to make headway against a determined resistance from insurgent
militia.

Ranneberger

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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