Ethiopia/Eritrea/Somalia: IRIN News Briefs [19990525]

Ethiopia/Eritrea/Somalia: IRIN News Briefs [19990525]


ETHIOPIA: Both Ethiopia and Eritrea claim victory in Mereb battle

Ethiopia and Eritrea each blamed the other on Monday for launching attacks near the Mereb River over the weekend, in which hundreds of soldiers on either side are reported to have been killed and injured.

A statement from the Ethiopian government, received by IRIN, claimed it had repelled an Eritrean attack, "launched to boost flagging morale for liberation day" on Monday, killing more than 400 Eritrean soldiers and wounding 1,500.

Eritrea, in turn, alleged in a statement that Ethiopia had launched Friday's attack and that "intermittent fighting" took place throughout the weekend, finally ceasing on Monday. It claimed to have killed 380 Ethiopian soldiers and wounded almost 1,000 in the three days of fighting. Asmara said the attack had "no purpose other than to disturb the nationwide celebrations for the eighth anniversary of independence", but that Eritreans throughout the country had nonetheless enjoyed the occasion.

Ethiopia clears over 30,000 mines

The Ethiopian mines project has cleared over 30,375 anti-personnel landmines and 539 anti-vehicle landmines during the last six weeks, a government statement received by IRIN has claimed. Ethiopia has alleged that Eritrea laid more than 100,000 mines during its occupation of Badme and surrounding areas.

Project leader, Major Yirdaw Gebre-Anenya, said the demining was carried out in an area stretching across 100 km. Ethiopian television said 60 to 70 people had been killed by mines in the region, while Yirdaw said that - despite a target of clearing 1,000 mines a day - stretches of farmland in the area would remain idle during the main 'Meher' harvest season coming up.

ERITREA: Asmara opening Mogadishu embassy, Somali paper claims

The government of Eritrea is set to open an embassy in south Mogadishu, and a new ambassador is expected there within a week, according to media reports from the Somali capital. The south Mogadishu administration of Hussein Aideed was reported by the Somali newspaper 'Qaran' to be putting the finishing touches to the building which would house the Eritrean embassy. However, a spokesman at the Eritrean embassy in Nairobi told IRIN on Tuesday he had heard nothing of such a plan.

SOMALIA: Ethiopian rebel leaders meet allies

Officials of various Ethiopian rebel movements have again met Somali warlord Hussein Aideed in Baidoa in recent days in an effort to settle the distribution of recently-received money between the groups, and to resolve religious and political differences, media sources in Somalia reported.

The meeting involved Aideed, Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) chairman Galasa Dilbo; chairman of the United Oromo Peoples Liberation Front (UOPLF) Waqo Gutu; chairman of the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) Mohamed Omar Osman; officials of the Western Somali Liberation Front; and Bushra Hussein, a senior official in Gutu's group, the 'Mogadishu Times' reported. The parties have met previously but those meetings ended inconclusively.

Aideed and RRA battle for Baidoa airstrip

The death of four of Hussein Aideed's militiamen in a landmine explosion on Sunday afternoon brought the death toll to at least 22, with dozens more wounded, in weekend fighting around the south-central town of Baidoa between Hussein's forces and the Rahanwein Resistance Army (RRA), media sources reported. Most of the fighting was around Baidoa airstrip and the village of Eldon, five miles south of the town, with Aideed trying to dislodge RRA positions.

Army worm infestation hits Somalia

Outbreaks of army worm infestation have been reported in Jamaame and Kismayo districts in Lower Juba, Middle Juba, Lower Shabelle, Bakool and Hiran regions of Somalia, according to a UN report received by IRIN. The document, covering the week ending 21 May, also cited "alarming reports" from Somaliland where, it stated, the risk exists that an irrevocable damage to the Gu season crops could occur, since most crops are very young and vulnerable at this stage.

Egal rings the changes in Somaliland cabinet

The president of the self-declared republic of Somaliland, Mohamed Ibrahim Egal, has sacked four of his ministers and switched the portfolios of another four in a major cabinet reshuffle, Reuters news agency reported on Sunday. A number of cabinet changes had been in the air but a reshuffle on this scale had not been anticipated, one Somalia observer told IRIN.+

Giving no reasons for the dismissals, Egal sacked Ministers Abdillahi Omaw Qawdan (Justice), Rashid Hagi Abdillahi (Defence), Hassan Mawlid Ahmed (Information) and Ismail Aden Osman (Commerce), in addition to the chairman of the Supreme Court, Osman Hussein Kheire, police commander Elmi Roble Furre, and Berbera port manager Ali Omer Hor-Hor, the agency said.

Omar Mohamed Nimale, formerly of the Interior, has been switched to Defence; Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo, formerly of Finance, to Planning and Foreign Relations; Mohamed Said Gees, formerly of Planning, to Finance; and Muse Hagi Mohamoud, formerly of Agriculture, to Information. Mohamed Jabril, former commander of the Custodian Corps, has been named police commander and Salebran Farah as the new manager of Berbera port.


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Item: irin-english-888

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Copyright (c) UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 1999

Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D

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