An unidentified vessel is unloading arms and ammunition thought to be for faction leader Hussein Aideed at the port of Merca, south of Mogadishu, several independent diplomatic and political sources have informed IRIN.
The materiel is said to include armoured personnel carriers. The sources added that the APCs included “BRDM-type and Ferret-type scout cars”.
Meanwhile, a Mogadishu newspaper, ‘Xog-Ogaal’, monitored by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), reported on Sunday that 200 of Aideed’s militiamen would soon be trained in Eritrea, the latest signal that the conflict in Ethiopia and Eritrea was spilling over into the Horn of African neighbour.
Since January, factions opposed to Aideed have protested that Eritrea has delivered arms to his faction. In late January, AFP reported that the Rahanwein Resistance Army, which has been clashing with Aideed in southwestern Somalia, and is aligned with Ethiopia, had alleged that Aideed had received five planeloads of weapons from Eritrea.
Senior diplomatic sources have confirmed to IRIN that three unscheduled cargo flights arrived at Balidogle from the Eritrean airports of Asmara and Assab between 15-17 January this year. Balidogle is an airport 115 km Mogadishu controlled by Aideed.
The source said two Ilyushin flights from Asmara and one from Assab arrived between 15-17 January 1998. An arms embargo was placed on Somalia in 1992 by UN Security Council resolution 751.
Somalia is in “one of its gloomiest periods”, a western diplomat told IRIN on Tuesday. The combination of drought, a food security crisis in southern regions and new deliveries of arms make the country particularly vulnerable, analysts say.
Several Somali armed factions, as well as the government of the self-declared state of Somaliland, are alleged by Somali and international media to have received arms or ammunition via either Ethiopia or Eritrea since the border conflict broke out last year.
This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions