From: Berhane Habtemariam (Berhane.Habtemariam@gmx.de)
Date: Tue Feb 03 2009 - 10:41:04 EST
Somalia: Islamists Urge Holy War On AU Troops
3 February 2009
Mogadishu - The Somali Islamist group al-Shabaab Tuesday urged its fighters
and Somalis to intensify a holy war against African Union (AU) peacekeepers
Sheikh Mukhtar Robow Abu Mansoor, the spokesman of al-Shabaab, held a press
conference in Baidoa, the ex-seat of parliament a day after AMISOM troops
were accused of killing about 40 civilians in Mogadishu.
"I call on the Somali people and the insurgents to attack the African Union
troops, who massacred our people," said Abu Mansoor.
"You are not peacekeepers, you are peace destroyers and you came to our
country to massacre our innocent civilians as you did yesterday. I call to
the African Union troops to pull out our country immediately or they will
face strong resistance," he added.
Abdirahin Isse Adow, the spokesman of the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) said
they would not tolerate "any more brutal actions" against the civilians.
According to Somali government officials, AU peacekeepers sprayed gunfire in
a busy road on Monday after one of their vehicles was targeted by a roadside
The deputy mayor of Mogadishu said at least 39 civilians were killed by AU
fire while other sources put the figure about 42.
Major Bahuko Baridgye, the spokesman of the AU forces, denied the
allegations and said that the roadside bomb explosion had killed three
civilians and wounded one of their soldiers.
The AU force comprises around 3,500 Ugandan and Burundian troops.
Somalia: Baidoa Protestors Oppose New President Sheikh Sharif
3 February 2009
Hundreds of people took to the streets in the Somali town of Baidoa Monday,
expressing their opposition to new Somali President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed,
Radio Garowe reports.
The Baidoa protestors who chanted anti-Sheikh Sharif slogans were addressed
by Al Shabaab officials, who reportedly organized the demonstration.
"We know Sheikh Sharif is a man who fought against Ethiopia, and today he
has joined the government that brought the enemy to our land [Somalia] and
so we see his government as no different than the one before it," said an Al
Shabaab speaker identified as Sheikh Ibrahim Adan.
Sheikh Sharif, new president of Somalia
Al Shabaab is a breakaway faction of the Islamic Courts Union (ICU), an
Islamist militia that briefly ruled south-central Somalia in 2006 who were
later dislodged from power by Ethiopian-backed government forces.
Sheikh Sharif was ICU chief when the Islamist group took over Mogadishu,
returning a sense of peace unmatched since the outbreak of civil war in
He negotiated a peace deal with the Somali government last year, allowing
Ethiopian troops to gradually withdraw from the country and expanding the
parliament to include Islamist moderates.
Sheikh Sharif's election has triggered defiance from different corners of
the country, including opposition from Eritrea-based Islamists led by Sheikh
Hassan Dahir Aweys, the ICU's exiled spiritual leader.
Sheikh Muse Abdi, an ally of Sheikh Aweys, told a Mogadishu press conference
that new President Sheikh Sharif has "deviated from the right path."
"He [Sheikh Sharif] has joined the enemy and so we do not recognize his
government," Sheikh Muse said.
Two peaceful regions in Somalia's north - Somaliland and Puntland - have
rejected the Djibouti peace process that led to Sheikh Sharif's presidency.
Somaliland's separatist government, which controls northwestern regions, has
refused to participate at Somali peace talks since unilaterally declaring
independence in 1991.
In Puntland, northeastern Somalia, new President Dr. Abdirahman Farole has
rejected the outcome of the Djibouti peace process on grounds that Puntland
was excluded and that federalism was at risk.
Al Shabaab insurgents control five regions in the south, including the key
towns of Kismayo, Marka and Baidoa.
The heavily-armed group remains the biggest threat to Sheikh Sharif's new
government, although the Islamist leader is known as a peace-builder.
Positively, celebrations in Mogadishu, Jowhar and Beletwein in support of
President Sheikh Sharif over the weekend is a sign that he is backed by ICU
moderates, who enjoy traditional support from Sheikh Sharif's Hawiye clan.
Meanwhile, Sheikh Abdulkadir Ali Omar, the ICU's former deputy chairman and
the group's senior ground commander during the insurgency, has urged Somalis
to support Sheikh Sharif's new government, "which will rule Somalia under
Islamic [Shariah] law."
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