By Hamsa Omar and Jason McLure
June 13 (Bloomberg) — Somalia’s main Islamist militia will increase attacks on government soldiers and their Ethiopian backers to intensify its opposition to a cease-fire signed by a rival opposition group in Djibouti earlier this week.
“We need to demonstrate that the deal in Djibouti was a false cease-fire agreement and we need to show that it won’t function in Somalia,” Sheikh Mukhatar Robow Abu-Mansoor, a spokesman for Al-Shabaab, told reporters late yesterday in a teleconference monitored in the capital, Mogadishu. The group will fight “Ethiopians and the puppet government until we liberate our territory from Allah’s enemy.”
On June 9, the government and the opposition Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia agreed to halt attacks within 30 days and for Ethiopian troops to withdraw from the country within four months and be replaced by a United Nations intervention force.
Somalia has been wracked by violence since the UN-backed Transitional Federal Government and U.S. supported Ethiopian forces ousted an Islamic militia from southern and central parts of the country in January 2007. The nation hasn’t had a functioning central administration since the 1991 removal of former dictator Mohammed Siad Barre.
Al-Shabaab won’t meet the government for talks until Ethiopian troops leave the country, Robow said.
“I call on all Mujahedeen to unite them against Allah’s enemy who invaded in our country and to increase their attacks on them every time especially for the coming days,” Robow said yesterday. The group will also oppose any deployment of United Nations peacekeepers in Somalia, he said.
“If the UN arrives in Mogadishu, I am calling on all Somalis to fight against them because they are the same as Ethiopians,” Robow said.
Al-Shabaab has been accused by the U.S. of providing safe haven and logistical support to al-Qaeda’s east Africa cell. The group has no links with al-Qaeda, Robow told Newsweek in April. This week’s accord was also rejected by Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, an influential Islamist leader who is designated a terrorist by the U.S. for his suspected links to al-Qaeda.
The UN’s humanitarian office said today that at least 30 people died this week in Somalia as a result of conflict.
On June 8, 18 people died in fighting between government forces and insurgents in Mogadishu’s Hawl Wadaag and Warhedley neighborhoods, according to a report released by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.
The following day, a U.S. naval ship rescued 82 migrants in the Red Sea en route to Yemen after their boat broke down. Nine people died from lack of food and water before the rescue.
Other deaths include the shooting of the director of a Somali aid organization on June 10, while on June 11, a truck driver working for the UN’s World Food Program died in an ambush in southern Somalia, raising the number of aid workers killed this year to 15, the OCHA said.
To contact the reporter on this story: Hamsa Omar in Mogadishu via Johannesburg at firstname.lastname@example.org.