by Lucy Lethbridge
THE Vatican this week questioned the United Nations' show of force in its response to Somali warlord Mohammed Farah Aideed.
The UN had launched three days of air strikes over the weekend, blasting ammunition dumps in the Somali capital of Mogadishu. The attack came in the wake of the killing of 23 Pakistani UN soldiers in at ambush last week. US forces suspected Aideed of the deaths.
Attacking the UN counteroffensive, which included shooting at a demonstration held by Somali supporters of General Aideed, as "without success", the Vatican's official newspaper, the Osservatore Romano, said the attacks risked legitimising Aideed's argument that the West was trying to re-colonise the east African country.
Catholic aid agencies and human rights organisations joined the Vatican in voicing concern over American bombing raids over the Somali capital Mogadishu, in the wake of the shooting by UN troops.
A spokesman for the Catholic Institute for International Affairs (CIIR) expressed "terrible concern that the UN has taken this response towards a warlord with whom they were in negotiation".
The spokesman went on to say that the UN action was "setting a precedent for the UN intervention which is very worrying". He added: "It can be seen as an ominous sign for the future."
Christian Aid organisations running projects in Somalia also expressed concern at what spokesman Martin Copingham called "a very rash response to the murders of the Pakistani forces".
Most of the Christian Aid projects in Somalia are run by expatriates and Mr Copingham expressed the view that the "very muddled thinking" behind the UN action will mean that "Somalis will come to view all foreigners as dangerous" which may lead to aid agencies having to pull out