Saturday, April 07, 2007

War-crimes claims emerge against Ethiopia, Somalia govt.

European diplomats said Thursday that they were investigating whether Ethiopian and Somali government forces committed war crimes last week during heavy fighting that killed more than 300 civilians. In some of the country’s bloodiest fighting of the past 15 years, Ethiopian and Somali forces clashed with bands of rebels. It reduced blocks of buildings in Mogadishu to smoldering rubble. Many residents have complained to human-rights groups, saying the government used excessive force and indiscriminately shelled their neighborhoods.

In the past week, human rights groups have been urging someone to look into the issue of civilian casualties. The Somali Diaspora Network, an American-based advocacy group, accused the transitional government and Ethiopian forces of “collective punishment” and genocide.

Several analysts said they believed Ethiopian forces overreacted in the fighting last week.
A war crimes case could fracture the thin veneer of legitimacy bestowed upon Somalia’s interim government by the United Nations and African Union. Ever since the provisional authority took control of Mogadishu with Ethiopian and US help in late December, it has struggled to pacify the city and win popular support. But so far, the government has failed to deliver the same level of stability that an Islamist administration brought during its brief reign last year.

Main Source: New York Times


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