Somali forces have reportedly captured the vital Ethiopian tank and radar base town of Jijiga in the biggest battle of the Ethiopian desert.
Somali forces have reportedly captured the vital Ethiopian tank and radar base town of Jijiga in the biggest battle of the Ethiopian desert. Fighting between Ethiopian and Somali troops is continuing, and a group of newsmen have been flown out to ??? Dawa by the Ethiopians to see Somali tanks knocked out in a battle there last month.
SYNOPSIS: The biggest prize in the Ethiopian arms haul 21 Somali tanks and 30 truckloads of ammunition. Ten of the tanks are in working order - and already many of them have been pressed into service in the escalating war in the Ogaden region on Somalia's border. Ethiopia proudly showed off its spoils to foreign newsmen, on one of the rare occasions they've been allowed to enter the war zone.
The Ethiopians claim that during that assault of Dire Dawa, 700 Somali troops were killed. But the Ethiopian arms coup pales against the latest claims by Somali forces that they've captured the vital Ethiopian tank and radar base town of Jijiga. During a two-week battle for Jijiga and the villages in the surrounding mountains, Somali guerrillas claim to have killed 4,000 Ethiopian troops and destroyed 52 tanks. Military observers say the battle for Jijiga is crucial to both sides. For the Somalis, victory would mean their earlier gains would be protested from an Ethiopian counter - attack. For the Ethiopians - it would mean the Somali drive into Southeast Ethiopia was checked.
Ethiopia has called up its retired soldiers up to the age of 60 to take part in the fighting, which hasn't yet reached Harar, the old walled city 45 miles (70 km) from Jijiga. The assembled newsmen weren't allowed to go on to Jijiga itself - the town is still officially claimed by the Ethiopians to be in Government hands.