Somalis Fight Once Again With UN Peacekeepers
AT least two Somalis were killed by United Nations peacekeepers from Pakistan in a firefight in the Somali capital Mogadishu yesterday, witnesses said. Somali gunmen attacked the headquarters of the Pakistani contingent to the UN's multinational force.
The incident followed the worst outbreak of violence between peacekeepers and Somali gunmen since the UN took command of the international operation in early May. Twenty-two Pakistani troops were killed Saturday when troops apparently loyal to Gen. Mohamed Farah Aideed ambushed UN personnel inspecting food storage sites under the warlord's control.
The firefight yesterday came just after Somali militiamen loyal to General Aideed handed over to UN troops five Pakistani soldiers who had been missing since the Saturday ambush. The UN Security Council authorized its troops to track down those responsible for the weekend clash.
Dozens of nonessential UN personnel were told to pack their bags Sunday afternoon and at least 80 were flown to Nairobi, Kenya. Several members of the Irish aid agency Concern also were leaving, and the international agency CARE sent six workers out of the city. Each agency planned to operate with only two people in Mogadishu until tensions eased.
In Washington, the State Department said it was temporarily reducing its staff in Mogadishu.
Aideed, who controls the southern half of the divided capital, blamed Saturday's bloodshed on UN soldiers who he said "carried out provocative attacks" across the city.
There are about 18,000 foreign troops left in Somalia to maintain order and help rebuild the East African nation that was stricken by drought, famine, and civil war until a US-led multinational force took control last December.
The ambush Saturday has raised questions about the UN's ability to control Somalia. Pakistan, which has the largest contingent in Somalia, has complained its soldiers were not given proper equipment and were left stranded for hours before US and Italian troops came to their rescue. Liberian Rebel Accused
Troops loyal to Liberian rebel leader Charles Taylor were responsible for the slaughter of 300 refugees at an abandoned rubber plantation outside Monrovia, according to Augustine Mahiga, representative of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Monrovia.
The weekend massacre was the worst in Liberia's three-and-a-half-year civil war since government soldiers killed 600 members of rival tribes in 1990. Mr. Mahiga said he and others estimated 300 people were killed and 765 wounded at Kata, a camp of refugees set up in the workers' compound of an abandoned Firestone complex that is the world's biggest rubber plantation.
Mr. Mahiga said witnesses blamed Mr. Taylor's rebels, who came looking for food a day after the United Nations had distributed rice in the area. The rebel leader denied responsibility in a broadcast interview with the British Broadcasting Corporation.
Liberia has been divided since Taylor invaded from Ivory Coast in December 1989. Taylor's forces control virtually the entire country except Monrovia, which is protected by a six-member West African peacekeeping force known as ECOMOG. More than half of Liberia's 2.3 million people are refugees.