• Short Summary

    Somali troops fighting against Ethiopian forces in the northern Ogaden claim to have captured a Cuban soldier.

  • Description

    Somali troops fighting against Ethiopian forces in the northern Ogaden claim to have captured a Cuban soldier. They say some other Cubans were killed. But Ethiopia denies any Cubans are taking part. Meanwhile on the Eritrean front, Ethiopian troops are still fighting to hold Massawa, their only deep water port on the Red Sea.

    SYNOPSIS: The battle is now in its second month. With the Eritrean People's Liberation Front holding three-quarters of Massawa, Ethiopian jets have begun bombing the city itself.

    The effect is minimal on the well-entrenched guerrillas, but damage to the city is already considerable.

    More than a quarter is now in ruins. The bombs from the Ethiopian's American and Russian supply jets are wreaking havoc with the flimsy and wooden houses of Massawa. Since the beginning of this year, MiG 21 fighters have flown up to 30 sorties over the city each day, attacking with bombs and cannon, napalm and anti-personnel shells. Artillery and heavy mortars and T54 tanks-all Soviet-made-join in pounding suspected guerrilla positions. Offshore, the ships fire in close support.

    The Ethiopians have lost more than 20 of their Russian tanks in the battle so far.

    More than 4,000 people, including some 600 guerrillas, have been killed or wounded in the fighting. It is a battle neither side is prepared to lose, and after 16 years of war the guerrillas are well-equipped to hold their position.

    Reuters say the guerrillas appear to hold the initiative and their leaders say they are confident of eventual victory.

    The city itself is deserted. Most of its 50,000 inhabitants have fled to improvised refugee camps in the surrounding hills. Because of the air raids, sometimes the guerrillas rarely move during daylight hours. But their frontline trenches are within sight of the Ethiopians.

    The Ethiopian garrison with its 6,000 soldiers, sailors and peasant militia, has been defeated twice in open battle with the guerrillas since the campaign began in early December.

    It appears to be relying on newly-supplied Soviet heavy arms to turn the tide in its favour.

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    Reuters - Source to be Verified
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