Battle of Beledweyne (2008) - The Battle

The Battle

The fighting started July 1, 2008, when Somali opposition fighters ambushed an Ethiopian army convoy travelling from Guguriel in retreat toward the Ethiopian border. The fighting in the Mataban locality left 47 Ethiopian soldiers and 235 Islamist fighters dead. Three Ethiopian military vehicles were destroyed and two captured by the insurgents. 11 of the dead Ethiopians were senior and junior officers. Ethiopian troops withdrew to Ferfer across the border. As for the civilian casualties of the Mataban battle it was confirmed that a child was among those killed.

On July 3, 2008, Ethiopian troops commenced a counter-attack over the border against the insurgents in an attempt to retake Beledweyne. An Ethiopian column supported by tanks and artillery drove southeast from Ferfer and engaged Islamic Courts forces in Elgal in the mountainous northwestern outskirts of Beledweyn. The Ethiopian force pounded Islamist positions heavily with ballistic missiles. Later in the day the Ethiopian force advanced to Jandkundisho, a suburb of Beledweyn, and continued to pound the hills surrounding Beledweyne, before digging into defensive positions outside Beledweyn.

The battle resumed on July 5, 2008 when the Islamist and Ethiopian forces clashed in Bur-Gabo, a village between Ferfer and Beledweyn. Sheikh Abdirahim Isse declared the Islamist forces to be victorious, having destroyed 4 Ethiopian military vehicles and "huge losses" of Ethiopian soldiers.

On July 6, 2008, the residents of Beledweyn fled the town as the Ethiopian Army began building up their forces in Jandkundisho, conceivably in preparations for an attack on Beledweyn itself.

On July 24, 2008, Ethiopian troops finally attacked the town. Seven civilians were killed and 12 others were wounded after artillery shells and bullets hit residential areas in Beledweyne as the troops moved in. Another seven civilians were shot dead near a bridge in the town by Ethiopian troops, who were returning fire after being attacked. Two more civilians were killed later in the day by shelling. By late that night most of the city had fallen into Ethiopian hands. However the Islamists were regrouping for a counter-attack. 16 civilians were dead by the end of the first day.

The next morning on July 25, 2008, fighting was still raging, as Islamist rebels sought to push out Ethiopian troops. At least 12 people were killed, including three civilians who died when an artillery shell hit their home on the western side of Beledweyne. Among the dead were at least three Ethiopian soldiers and four insurgents. This brought the toll in two days of fighting to 28 dead. The street battles finally died down by the end of the day with Ethiopian troops in control of the town.

The subsequent day saw Islamic Court Militants launch a massed counter-attack against Ethiopian positions in Beledweyne. Utilizing artillery support the UIC succeeded in recapturing a key bridge in the central part of the town. During this renewed fighting much of the Beledweyne civilian population fled from their homes.

Read more about this topic:  Battle Of Beledweyne (2008)

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