LAS ANOD — Ethiopian troops stationed in the central Somali town of Beledweyne in Hiiraan province arrested two Somali leaders on Sunday afternoon after refusing peace deals.

The Ethiopians captured Adan Abdullahi Awale, the regional leader of Somalia’s Sufi paramilitary group Ahlu Sunna, an ally of the weak TFG, and Abdulfatah Hassan Jama, the president of Shabelle Valley administration, a self-style semi-autonomous region in central Somalia.

Eyewitnesses in Beledweyne told Somalilandpress, the Ethiopian troops decided to apprehend the Somali leaders after they clashed outside Beledweyne on Sunday with each laying claim to the strategic town. The Ethiopians tried to mediate between the two groups and urged them to work together against their common al Shabaab enemy. Both men rejected the offers and continued to threatened each others. The Ethiopian forces, who desperately need a local leader to help stabilize the region became fed up with their inner wrangles and decided to arrest them. They were released after spending in prison overnight in an Ethiopian military camp outside the town. Ethiopia has further threatened to arrest all Somali leaders in the region unless they work together to improve security for their people. Both Ahlu Sunna and Shabelle Valley were close Ethiopian ally and Addis Ababa tried to use them to create a buffer zone along its border with Somalia.

Beledweyne is a strategic town located about 20 miles (30 kilometers) from the border with Ethiopia on the road to Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu. The town is disputed between Ahlu Sunna, transitional federal government (TFG), Shabelle Valley administration and another semi-autonomous state called Hiiraan State. In December 2011, heavily armed Ethiopian soldiers captured the town from al Shabaab militants. Tired of Somalis lack of leadership and ability to make peace, Ethiopia said they would hand over the occupied town to the AU control.

Classified as a failed state, Somalia has not had a functioning central government for more than 20 years and has been wracked by fighting between various militias.

Number one English-Somali website

Monday, Jan 16, 2012