Somali prime minister vows to defeat “terrorists of the so-called Islamic courts”.
|“Liberating towns is not our agenda. Our troops have not entered any town”
Meles Zenawi, Ethiopian
The Red Cross said that more than 800 casualties had been admitted to hospital since the fighting began and thousands of people had fled their homes.
The Islamic Courts admitted that they had been forced to withdraw from many frontline positions, but have vowed to dig in for a long war with Ethiopia, which has denied intentions of taking the capital.
“Liberating towns is not our agenda. Our troops have not entered any town,” Meles said.
“Our forces and that of the [transitional federal government] have broken the back of the international terrorist forces around Baidoa and they are in full retreat now,” he added.
Heading for Mogadishu
Abdelkarin Farah, Somalia’s ambassador to Ethiopia, told journalists in Addis Ababa that the transitional government’s forces were 100km from the capital.
Islamic troops withdrew more than 80km to the southeast from Daynuney, a town just south of Baidoa and advancing government and Ethiopian troops captured Bur Haqaba, one of the Courts’ main bases, after it was abandoned early on Tuesday.
|The Red Cross says thousands of people have
fled their homes due to the fighting [AFP]
“We woke up from our sleep this morning and the town was empty of troops, not a single Islamic fighter,” Ibrahim Mohamed Aden, a resident of Bur Haqaba, said.
“We have decided to change our tactics,” Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, the head of the Islamic Courts executive committee, told a news conference in Mogadishu. “We are ready to start long-lasting war with Ethiopia.”