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UPDATED: 08:32, December 25, 2006
EU condemns escalation of conflict in Somalia
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The European Union (EU) condemned on Sunday the escalation of conflict in Somalia and asked for an immediate cessation of hostilities.

"I condemn in the strongest terms the escalation of the conflict in Somalia into an all-out war and appeal for all Somali sides to cease immediately all hostilities," said Louis Michel, EU commissioner for development and humanitarian aid, in a statement.

"I express my deepest concern on the reported involvement of foreign forces in Somalia and urge all external players to refrain immediately from intervening militarily in Somali affairs and provoke further violence."

Michel failed to broker peace between the transitional government and Islamic militia, the Union of Islamic Courts.

He deplored the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Somalia due to heavy fighting in several fronts.

He called on both the transitional authorities and the militia group to immediately resume the Khartoum dialogue process without any preconditions.

In a separate statement, Finland, which holds the rotating EU presidency, also condemned the fighting in the Horn of Africa country.

"The Presidency of the European Union expresses its grave concern at the outbreak of fighting between Ethiopia and the Union of Islamic Courts in Somalia. The Presidency condemns the bombardments and exchanges of artillery fire, which may lead to civilian casualties and to an escalation into full-scale war," said the statement.

The EU presidency urged the fighting parties to stop hostilities and called on countries in the region to refrain from acts which could endanger the cease-fire and the political process, and to fully observe the arms embargo.

Source: Xinhua

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