US forces ready to step up action against Somalis

AMERICAN military forces in Somalia have launched a more aggressive phase in Operation Restore Hope in what they admit could spark more firefights with Somali gunmen similar to Thursday's attack on a large arms depot in north-western Mogadishu.

'We are providing preconditions for us getting involved in confrontations with 'technicals' and gangsters,' General Robert Johnston, the United States commander in Somalia, told an American television network. Technicals are makeshift battlewagons armed with heavy machine-guns, anti-aircraft weapons and recoilless rifles used by the warring factions in Somalia.

'This may be Dodge City, but Wyatt is in town,' Col Mike Hagee of the Directorate of Operations said yesterday.

A 450-marine column entered the 'gun market' in north-eastern Mogadishu yesterday and confiscated 250 rifles, a tank, 10 technicals and hundreds of rounds of ammunition. Despite the announcement of the effective closure of the market, the arms the Americans captured yesterday and on Thursday represented a small fraction of the estimated thousands of weapons still in Mogadishu. Some of the weapons at the gun market were turned in in return for bags of rice and wheat, said Col Hagee.

The success of a programme for the voluntary surrender of weapons in the southern port of Kismayu had been 'limited', said Col Hagee, who estimated that 43 guns had been handed in.

The stepped-up US patrols in Mogadishu against arms depots and gunmen have followed sharp criticism from Somalis and international relief agencies of the Americans' failure to pursue disarmament more vigorously. Several foreign aid organisations have said that after a month of Operation Restore Hope, security in some areas of the capital is worse than before the US marines arrived on 9 December.

Gen Johnston, in the television interview, said that intervention forces had succeeded in establishing humanitarian relief sites in Somalia's famine belt in the interior. 'Now we're in phase three,' Gen Johnston said. 'Now we are systematically going after the technicals and the bandits. Now the focus is on eliminating the technicals.'

He predicted more clashes with Somali gunmen because more American forces were patrolling the streets of the capital. 'Especially around Mogadishu, we are now very aggressively patrolling.'

ADDIS ABABA - Somali warring factions reached agreement here yesterday on holding a national reconciliation conference in the Ethiopian capital from 15-18 April, AFP reports.

A member of the delegation of one of the two main warlords, Ali Mahdi Mohamed, said the accord was reached after much international pressure, notably from the United Nations, the US and Ethiopia. The other main warlord, Mohamed Farah Aideed, had been holding out for a ceasefire before agreeing to the date and place where the conference would be held. The source said Gen Aideed had been more conciliatory overnight, especially since US troops attacked his positions on Thursday.

(Photograph omitted)

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
Small winemakers say the restriction makes it hard to sell overseas
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
A comedy show alumni who has gone on to be a big star, Jon Stewart
tvRival television sketch shows vie for influential alumni
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Hope Fletcher
booksFirst video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
News
Clare Balding
peopleClare Balding on how women's football is shaking up sport
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
Damien Hirst
artCoalition's anti-culture policy and cuts in local authority spending to blame, says academic
Sport
premier leagueMatch report: Arsenal 1 Man United 2
Arts and Entertainment
Kirk Cameron is begging his Facebook fans to give him positive reviews
film
News
i100
Sport
Jonny May scores for England
rugby unionEngland 28 Samoa 9: Wing scores twice to help England record their first win in six
Life and Style
fashionThe Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Arts and Entertainment
Jason goes on a special mission for the queen
tvReview: Everyone loves a CGI Cyclops and the BBC's Saturday night charmer is getting epic
Arts and Entertainment
Jerry Hall (Hand out press photograph provided by jackstanley@theambassadors.com)
theatre
Sport
Tony Bellew (left) and Nathan Cleverly clash at the Echo Arena in Liverpool
boxingLate surge sees Liverpudlian move into world title contention
Voices
Neil Findlay
voicesThe vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
food + drinkMeat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
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

Reach Volunteering: Financial Trustee and Company Secretary

Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: A trustee (company d...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Project Manager

£45000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Shopfitter

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a successful an...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Sales Account Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Digital Sales Account Manager...

Day In a Page

Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible
Look what's mushrooming now! Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector

Look what's mushrooming now!

Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Neil Findlay is more a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

More a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

The vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Tenderstem broccoli omelette; Fried eggs with Mexican-style tomato and chilli sauce; Pan-fried cavolo nero with soft-boiled egg

Oeuf quake

Bill Granger's cracking egg recipes
Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

Terry Venables column

Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin