Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat- Officials at the Supreme Council of Islamic Courts (SCIC) yesterday threatened to invade Baidoa, where the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) is currently based.
The armed forces of the SCIC are currently preparing to attack Bur-Hakaba, which lies 62 miles from Baidoa. The small town was captured by the Islamists a few months ago and was recaptured by the TFG armed forces last week.
“We will cut off the head of the snake,” an SCIC official told Asharq Al-Awsat. SCIC Chairman Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmad has not yet revealed his intentions, but Somali government officials are already preparing to defend their last stronghold in Baidoa. A government official told Asharq Al-Awsat the administration had complete confidence in its armed forces.
The official denied the presence of any Ethiopian troops in Baidoa, but said that both Ethiopia and Kenya would send troops to aid the government if Baidoa was attacked.
Meanwhile, the SCIC’s armed forces have already cut off the road leading from the capital Mogadishu to Bur-Hakaba and Baidoa. They are now spread out along the road with guns, missile launchers and heavy artillery.
Eyewitnesses in Bur-Hakaba reported that the local citizens of the town were escaping to neighboring Kenya.
The SCIC captured the capital Mogadishu in June and has since gained control over most of southern Somalia. The third round of peace talks between the SCIC and the TFG is scheduled for next week, but the latest developments will probably hinder the negotiations.