At least seven people have been killed, including three
police officers, in the Somali capital, following the formation of a new
Armed insurgents staged a hit-and-run attack on
a government base in north-east Mogadishu, leaving six dead, a police spokesman
Elsewhere, a police captain was shot dead by three men with pistols.
The new alliance has named former Islamist leader Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed
as its chairman.
Prime Minister Mohamed Ghedi has criticised the new Eritrea-based
grouping as “trouble-makers
and terrorists”. “The government does not recognise the results
of the so-called Asmara conference hosted by the Eritrean president, who
is known to be the trouble-maker in the Horn of Africa,” he said, according
to the AP news agency.
The overnight Mogadishu attack was in Huriwa,
seen as an insurgent stronghold. “It was one of the heaviest attacks
we have witnessed for months – they attacked us with a large number of fighters,” said
Abdi Hashi Aden, a police officer in the attacked camp.
Local resident Sahra
Shiekh Muse said she witnessed a number of government soldiers forced to
run out of the camp. Police spokesman Colonel Abdi Wahid Mohamed denied the
The attacks came hours after a night-time curfew was relaxed for the
Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
The new Alliance for the Liberation of Somalia
(ALS) groups together former Islamists and opposition figures. It aims to
remove the Ethiopian-backed government by negotiation – or war. “We
have two-track options – first is the liberation of Somalia through military
struggle, the second is through diplomatic efforts,” said Zakariya Mahamud
Abdi, spokesman for the Somali Congress.
The spokesman had a stark warning
for Ethiopian troops, heavily deployed in Somalia since they rescued embattled
transitional government forces last year. “We warn Ethiopia to withdraw
It is now or never and in a few weeks they will not have a route
to withdraw,” Abdi said. Mr Ahmed has been named as ALS chairman and
the head of its executive committee, Mr Abdi said.
After the Islamists were
ousted from Mogadishu last December, western diplomats urged the government
to seek reconciliation with those seen as moderates, such as Mr Ahmed. Former
speaker of parliament Sherif Hassan Sheikh Adan has been named as chairman
of the central committee, seen as the equivalent of a parliament.
It is not
yet clear whether Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, an architect of the Mogadishu
insurgency and on the US list of terror suspects, will be a senior member
of the alliance. His presence at the talks led the US to threaten to include
Eritrea as a state sponsor of terrorism. Boycott Since their defeat by Ethiopia’s
vastly superior military force in December last year, the Islamists have
resorted to guerrilla tactics, launching daily hit-and-run attacks on targets,
mainly in Mogadishu.
The UN refugee agency says some 400,000 people have
fled the fighting in the capital in the past four months as a result of the
surge in violence.
The Islamists, along with other opposition leaders like
Hussain Aideed, boycotted a reconciliation meeting sponsored by the transitional
government last month. Instead they chose to organise a meeting hosted by
Ethiopia’s arch-enemy, Eritrea. Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has
said his troops will withdraw once an African Union peacekeeping force arrives
But pledges by AU nations to contribute troops to the planned
7,000-strong peacekeeping mission have yet to be honoured and so far only
1,600 Ugandan soldiers have been deployed.