Food riots, anti-U.S. protests erupt in Somalia
The unrest follows reports of atrocities by militants and US-backed Ethiopian and Somali forces, as well as a recent US strike on an alleged Al Qaeda leader there.
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Meanwhile, the BBC reports that human rights group Amnesty International is saying civilians in Somalia are "completely at the mercy of armed groups" who are targeting them for atrocities. The report blames all sides – Somalian government troops, their US-trained Ethiopian allies, and Islamic insurgents – for being "out of control."Skip to next paragraph
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But Ethiopian troops are singled out for committing especially grisly acts. The Ethiopian government has denied the charges and demanded an apology, reports the BBC.
The Amnesty report uses detailed testimony from survivors to paint a picture of a humanitarian and political crisis.
Amnesty International's Africa Program Deputy Director Michelle Kagari said:
The Independent writes that Amnesty is also calling for a probe into the US role in war crimes committed by its allies in Somalia. It writes that US troops provided equipment to the Ethiopian military and trained Ethiopian forces that Amnesty says have carried out atrocities.
It gave further details on the Amnesty report, which described a pattern of violence.
Al-Shabaab – an Islamic insurgent group which the US has designated a terrorist group – has launched attacks on residential areas. The Ethiopian troops then respond with a security sweep, with door-to-door checks in which civilians are often attacked again. Some 700,000 civilians have fled such violence.
Agence France-Presse reported on further riots Sunday in Dhusamareb – 250 miles north of Mogadishu – in the wake of a US bombing there last Thursday.
That bombing killed at least 12 people, including Moalim Aden Hashi Ayro, who the Somali government and the US believe was the leader of Al Qaeda in Somalia.
One protest organizer told the Agence France-Presse that since the attack, residents had been vomiting. "We believe the Americans used poisonous bombs," said Abdirasak Moalim Ahmed.
It wrote that the US Pentagon declined to say that Ayro was the target of Thursday's attack, but did confirm an attack on what it called an Al Qaeda military leader in Somalia.
Garowe Online, the website of a community radio station based in the capital of northern Somalia's self-governing Puntland region, reports that the Kenyan government has increased security measures on fears that Islamic militants could launch retaliatory attacks against US interests in Kenya to revenge Ayro's death.
In its latest briefing on Somalia in January, the International Crisis Group called a late December offensive against Islamists by US-backed Somalia government and Ethiopian forces a "major success for Ethiopia and the US, who feared emergence of a Taliban-style haven for Al Qaeda and other extremists."
In that "lightning offensive", hundreds of Islamists were killed and the rest dispersed.
But the group cautioned that the attack had left a political vacuum in southern Somalia and warned of further guerrilla war by Islamic militants.