Somalis appeal to UN over Ethiopian raids

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The Independent Online
ETHIOPIAN FORCES have captured the Somali border towns of Bulahow and Dolo using heavily armed troops and armoured personnel carriers.

The soldiers have, according to Somali leaders, taken over the running of the towns and arrested Somali administrative and security personnel since a surprise attack on 8 April.

In what amounts to Somalia's first national protest after being without a central government for nine years, faction leaders yesterday sent a letter of condemnation to the United Nations Security Council and the Organisation of African Unity.

The former arch-enemies Ali Mahdi Mohamed and Hussein Mohamed Aideed appealed jointly from Mogadishu for urgent action by the Security Council to halt what they termed Ethiopian aggression.

The letter was also signed by the faction leader Omar Haji, who comes from the border region. According to the letter, Ethiopia has been "destabilising and invading Somalia" since August 1996 and has been "distributing arms ... in violation of the UN Security Council arms embargo on Somalia".

Ethiopia previously justified repeated armed incursions into Somalia by citing border instability, particularly in relation to Islamic extremists known to operate in the area. Displaced people arriving in Mogadishu over the past few months after fleeing the border fighting say Ethiopian forces have strafed villages with helicopter gunships, destroyed property, made arrests, and carried out door-to-door searches.

Somali leaders accuse warring Ethiopia and Eritrea of "bringing their battle to Somalia" by arming different factions and interfering in the country's already volatile politics.

Somalia has been without a central government for almost a decade.

It still suffers fighting and factionalism in its devastated capital six years after failed international military and humanitarian intervention.