Why are Ethiopian troops and Somali Transitional Government forces chasing their opponents down to Kismayo?

The best case scenario would be a massacre.  The worst is still to come. 

The Somali Transitional Government, which is somehow, and for some reason, backed by the United Nations, says there are wanted international terror suspects with the Somali Islamic Court forces who have retreated to Kismayo…

The Associated Press reports today that “Somalia’s prime minister said three al-Qaida suspects wanted in the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies were hiding [in Kismayo].  Somali troops, supported by Ethiopian tanks and MiG fighter jets, attacked front-line forces of the Islamic group in southern Somalia. Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi said they would ‘capture or kill’ the terror suspects.  Thousands of residents fled the fertile agricultural area before the battle, carrying blankets, food and water as they headed toward the Kenyan border, 100 miles to the south.  Gedii said Islamic militants in Kismayo, Somalia’s third-largest city, were sheltering alleged bombers Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan and Abu Taha al-Sudani. The bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania killed more than 250 people.

“Somalia’s interim government and its Ethiopian allies have long accused Islamic militias of harboring al-Qaida, and the U.S. government has said the 1998 bombers have become leaders in the Islamic movement in Africa.  ‘We would like to capture or kill these guys at any cost,’ Prime Minister Gedi told the AP. ‘They are the root of the problem.’  The Islamic group denies having links to al-Qaida.  In the past 10 days, Islamic fighters have been forced from the capital, Mogadishu, and other key towns in the face of attacks led by Ethiopia.  Gedi said he spoke Sunday to the U.S. ambassador in Kenya, Michael Ranneberger, about sealing the Kenyan border with Somalia to prevent the three terror suspects from escaping.  ‘If we capture them alive we will hand them over to the United States,’ Gedi said. ‘We know they are in Kismayo.’

“The U.S. government has a counterterrorism task force based in neighboring Djibouti and has been training Kenyan and Ethiopian forces to protect their borders. The U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet also has a maritime task force patrolling international waters off the Somali coast, which helps prevent terrorists from launching attacks or transporting personnel, weapons or other material, said fleet spokesman Commander Kevin Aandahl.

“The military advance marked a stunning turnaround for Somalia’s government, which just weeks ago could barely control one town – its base of Baidoa – while the Council of Islamic Courts controlled the capital and much of southern Somalia.  The Council of Islamic Courts, the umbrella group for the Islamic movement that ruled Mogadishu for six months, wants to transform Somalia into a strict Islamic state.  Islamic officials said they still had fighters in the capital and were ready for warfare…Some Mogadishu residents also feared the return of warlords who were the city’s rulers, judges, jailers and executioners before the Islamic Courts drove them out.  Mohamed Qanyare Afrah, one of those warlords, has already returned – and he warned the Somali government’s control over Mogadishu was an illusion.  ‘If Ethiopian forces pull out tomorrow, (the Islamists) will come back the following day. I guarantee you,’ said Afrah, who said he had 1,500 militiamen under his control.  He said he was convinced the Islamists were still hiding in Mogadishu and would strike with ‘urban guerrilla warfare – land mines, explosives. People will live in terror and fear’.” http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/S/SOMALIA

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