ONE of Somalia's most powerful warlords said yesterday that he has asked the United States military to disarm the fighters of another warlord who are violating a truce and attacking his forces in several regions.
Gen. Mohamed Farah Aideed told a news conference that he had informed US Special Envoy Robert Oakley of the situation.
A US official today confirmed General Aideed's complaint that Gen. Mohamed Said Hersi, better known as General Morgan, had broken a cease-fire signed by 14 warring factions Jan. 15 by attacking Aideed's forces and weapon storage areas near Kismayo.
Aideed said the fighters were led by forces loyal to Maj. Gen. Mohamed Siad Barre, who was routed from power two years ago. Morgan is General Barre's son-in-law.
Aideed said his forces did not want to be disadvantaged and wanted disarmament extended immediately to all areas controlled by the warring factions.
By his request, Aideed appeared to be trying to pull the US beyond its original commitment of a humanitarian operation to secure Somalia and allow relief workers to travel freely around the country to feed the starving. Until the international forces of Operation Restore Hope arrived on Dec. 9, armed bandits were looting food aid with abandon.
Neither Ambassador Oakley nor his spokesmen could be reached immediately for comment. But when asked Sunday if US forces would enforce the cease-fire, a spokesman indicated they would.
"We prefer to enforce it through political means because it's obviously less costly," said US Marine Col. Chip Gregson, deputy director of operations for the task force. "But the cease-fire is very important to us, and I think we've taken actions in the past to demonstrate that we're willing and able to take military action to enforce the cease-fire if we can isolate whose breaking it."
Despite the attacks, Aideed said his faction would participate with other warring factions in a national conference March 15 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, aimed at uniting the country.
Fourteen factions signed the cease-fire and disarmament agreement on Jan. 15 in Addis Ababa. Preliminary talks to set the agenda for the March 15 meeting broke off Friday because of the alleged cease-fire violations. They are to resume Feb. 1.
Meanwhile, Belgian and European Community development officials yesterday called off a visit to Kismayo because of the escalating violence.