From the Independent:

The first US
airstrike was carried out on 7 January 2007 – its first and only
publicly acknowledged military operation inside Somalia since 1994. Two
AC-130 helicopter gunships, flown from an airbase in eastern Ethiopia,
carpet-bombed a convoy of trucks moving through Ras Kamboni, a fishing
village near the Kenyan border that has also been home to an al-Qa’ida
training camp.

A team of US special forces based
in Kenya’s Manda Bay flew in after the airstrike with orders to kill
anyone left alive and find out who had died. The mission was instantly
declared a success. Those attacked were “senior al-Qa’ida leadership”,
the Pentagon said…..There was only one problem. According to local
Somalis, and confirmed by western diplomats and aid officials in
Nairobi, none of the dead was connected to the [Islamic] Courts [or al
Qaeda]. Instead, a group of pastoralists gathering around a fire to
keep the mosquitoes away had been killed.

….Mogadishu has been rocked by
almost daily violence. Hundreds of civilians have been killed in the
crossfire, thousands injured. Ethiopia’s original plan, drafted with
the US, foresaw a two-month-long military operation. By the beginning
of March last year Ethiopian troops would begin to withdraw. That
hasn’t happened. Instead, frustrated by the growing insurgency,
Ethiopia has been forced to increase its numbers…..As the insurgency
in Mogadishu has grown, so too has the influence of its hardline
leaders. The conservatives who headed the Islamic Courts have been

Somalia is now experiencing its
worst period of violence in two decades. The daily battles between
Ethiopian-backed government forces and the insurgents have had a
devastating impact on the population….More than 600,000 people fled
Mogadishu last year. Around 200,000 are now living in squalid impromptu
refugee camps along a 15km-stretch of road outside the capital.
According to UN officials it is the largest concentration of displaced
people anywhere in the world. Those same officials now consider Somalia
to be the worst humanitarian catastrophe in Africa, eclipsing even
Darfur in its sheer horror.

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