The Islamic militiamen holding most of southern Somalia deployed hundreds of fighters outside the base of the U.N.-backed interim government Wednesday and said they planned to seize it.
Seizing Baidoa – about 150 miles northwest of the capital, Mogadishu – would make the Islamic militia, which the United States has links to al-Qaida, the uncontested authority over most of the country.
Neighboring Ethiopia said it was prepared to invade to defend the Somali government.
The interim government was on high alert and ready to defend itself from a militia attack, Deputy Information Minister Salad Ali Jelle said.
No attack had taken place by nightfall Wednesday.
Kosovar, Serbian leaders to meet
Serbian President Boris Tadic announced Wednesday he will meet with ethnic Albanian leaders of the breakaway Kosovo province, the first top level face-to-face talks between the former warring sides.
The U.N.-sponsored gathering, tentatively set for Monday in Vienna, Austria, will seek an agreement on the future status of the province. Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian majority insists on full independence, but the Serb minority and Belgrade government want to retain some control.
Kosovo – seen as Serbia’s historic heartland – has been run by the United Nations and patrolled by international peacekeepers since a 1999 NATO aerial bombardment halted a crackdown by Serb forces on separatist ethnic Albanian rebels.
So far there have been a number of meetings dealing with technical issues, but Monday’s conference would be the first involving top political leaders from both sides. Serbia is still reeling from the secession of its sister state of Montenegro, which declared independence after a referendum in May. Serbia had opposed the breakup.
NEW HAVEN, Conn.
Briton accused of aiding terrorism
A British man was indicted Wednesday on charges he helped run terrorism fundraising Web sites, set up terrorists with temporary housing in England and possessed a classified U.S. Navy document revealing troop movements.
Syed Talha Ahsan, 26, was arrested at his home in London on a federal indictment in Connecticut charging him with conspiracy to support terrorists and conspiracy to kill or injure people abroad.
Ahsan is accused in the same case as Babar Ahmad, a British computer specialist who was indicted in Connecticut in October 2004. Both are accused of running several Web sites including Azzam.com, which investigators say was used to recruit members for the al-Qaida network, Afghanistan’s ousted Taliban regime and Chechen rebels.