UN forces risk sinking into military quagmire in Somalia: Firefights with militiamen become a daily event with rising toll of death and injury - World - News - The Independent

UN forces risk sinking into military quagmire in Somalia: Firefights with militiamen become a daily event with rising toll of death and injury

ONE BLOCK from the main compound of Pakistani troops serving with the United Nations intervention force in Somalia, barricades of wire and twisted metal set up by militia forces loyal to the warlord General Mohamed Farah Aideed mark a no-go area.

The October 21 road a mile away has become a daily flashpoint, where sweeps by the UN forces to disarm Somali gunmen routinely end in firefights. Two Pakistani soldiers and at least two Somali fighters died on Monday in a four-hour battle pitting US helicopters, Italian tanks and Pakistani armoured personnel-carriers against militiamen responding with rifles and rocket-propelled grenades.

The day before, two US soldiers and a Pakistani trooper were wounded on the same road. The fortified compound housing personnel of the UN operation in Somalia, called Unosom, has come under fire almost every night for the past week.

This month the fighting has killed 31 UN troops, 24 of them on 5 June in attacks allegedly organised by Gen Aideed, as well as dozens of civilians and Somali fighters. With Gen Aideed still at large and public resentment of the 26-nation Unosom building, the death toll is likely to rise.

The special UN envoy to Somalia, retired US Navy Admiral Jonathan Howe, professed confidence in an interview that 'this is a moment we are going to have a breakthrough' and that Gen Aideed's armed supporters number only several hundred.

Admiral Howe said the Unosom forces would soon launch a major disarmament sweep throughout the city and continue a political reform process leading to democratic elections in March 1995.

Yet Unosom appears in danger of sinking into a quagmire. Increasingly, the 18,000 foreign troops are seen by Somalis as an occupation force which has shown too little concern for civilian casualties and which has mistakenly believed that hatred for Gen Aideed's brutal past translated into unanimous support for Unosom.

The warning signs of Unosom's change of fortunes have been evident for months. Even before the US-led intervention in Somalia, known as Operation Restore Hope, last December, the then US ambassador to Kenya, Hempstone Smith, wrote a confidential letter to the State Department arguing that foreign military involvement in Somalia would be a disaster. 'If you liked Beirut, you will love Somalia,' he was reported to have written.

The Americans' initial ties with Gen Aideed were cordial, primarily because the then US ambassador, Robert Oakley, refrained from pursuing disarmament in return for a pledge that the warlords would not target US soldiers. The relationship broke down in February when Mr Oakley was forced by his military commanders to retract a pledge to keep one of Gen Aideed's bitterest enemies, Gen Mohamed Hersi Morgan, the son-in-law of the former dictator Mohamed Siad Barre, from conquering the port of Kismayu.

Now Gen Aideed's propaganda leaflets call on supporters to kill American troops and civilians, and Admiral Howe is the subject of a 'wanted' poster campaign.

Unosom forces decided to punish Gen Aideed after the 5 June killing of Pakistani troops. 'We were at a stage that people had to know that he had no future,' said Admiral Howe, who issued an order for Gen Aideed's arrest and had 'wanted' posters printed. 'I think the Unosom action against Aideed is having a very healthy impact on the other warlords.'

But other pro-Aideed factions have attacked Unosom's campaign as interference in Somali politics and a sign that it wants to determine the country's future political leadership.

Suggested Topics
News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
News
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
Property
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
property
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
The programme sees four specialists creating what they believe are three perfect couples, based on scientific matchmaking. The couples will not meet until they walk down the aisle together
tvUK wedding show jilted
Arts and Entertainment
US pop diva Jennifer Lopez sang “Happy Birthday” to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, president of Turkmenistan
musicCorporate gigs become key source of musicians' income
Arts and Entertainment
You've been framed: Henri Matisse's colourful cut-outs at Tate Modern
artWhat makes a smash-hit art show
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
Sport
Mikel Arteta pictured during Borussia Dortmund vs Arsenal
champions league
Voices
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
Arts and Entertainment
Pulp-fiction lover: Jarvis Cocker
booksJarvis Cocker on Richard Brautigan
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke and Pharell Williams in the video of the song, which has been accused of justifying rape
music...and he had 'almost no part' in writing it
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior QA Engineer - Agile, SCRUM

£35000 - £50000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior QA Engineer (Agil...

Marketing Executive - West Midlands - £28,000

£26000 - £28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Digital Marketing Executive (SEO, PP...

Retail Business Analyst

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our retail client ...

Senior C++ Developer

£400 - £450 Per Annum possibly more for the right candidate: Clearwater People...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week