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Dead By The Sword

2 minute read

MOGADISHU, Somalia: Somalia’s most infamous warlord, General Mohamed Farrah Aidid, died Thursday of an apparent heart attack, after being injured by a bullet last week. Aidid and his armed cadre resisted attempts by the United Nations and United States to restore civil government in the anarchic nation, forcing the U.S. to retreat ingloriously in March of 1994 and the U.N. a year later. Aidid’s death has been confirmed by his own radio station, which declared a 30-day period of mourning. TIME Nairobi bureau chief Andrew Purvis reports that Aidid was the biggest obstacle to a negotiated settlement to the multi-party civil war that has racked Somalia since the overthrow of dictatorial President Siad Barre in 1991. “His departure is probably a good thing from the point of view of those trying to bring peace to the country. Aidid was far and away the most hard-line of the nation’s warlords,” Purvis says. Since news of Aidid’s wounding circulated last week, a strange calm has fallen over the country and even Mogadishu, usually the site of the most intense fighting, is quiet. Purvis notes that Aidid had been pushing a military offensive in the last six months and says the chances of peace negotiations are improved by his passing. The general’s death leaves a power vacuum in central Somalia, but Purvis speculates that other warlords are more likely to make overtures to his followers than attempt a military foray into his territory. Steve Gunderson, Barney Frank and Gerry Studds Chris McKenna

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