03/11/08 (B472) Shabelle / Le GNT demande au Puntland et à la Somaliland de ne pas poursuivre un religieux somalien qui est suspecté de liens avec les réseaux terroristes. TFG urges Puntland, Somaliland not to harm clerics over suicide attacks (En Anglais – Info lecteur)

The spokesman of Somali president Hussein Mohamed Hubsired has called for Puntland and Somaliland to stay away from acting up against Somali clerics they jailed for links on deadly suicide attacks in Somaliland and Puntland.

Speaking to Shabelle radio Mr. Hubsired has noted that those jailed clerics have fled from the violence in Somalia.

“The jailed clerics have to be considered as refugees not terrorists, we call for Puntland and Somaliland to step away any act leading to harm the clerics” Hubsired said.

A prominent local religious leader has been arrested over multiple suicide attacks in northern Somalia.

At least 30 people were killed in five co-ordinated car-bombings in the autonomous Somaliland and Puntland regions.

Puntland security forces detained the Muslim cleric, Sheikh Mohamed Ismail, in a raid in the capital, Bosasso.

Also foreign workers are being evacuated from the city.

The decision was reached after a meeting between international organisations and government officials.

Most of the casualties were in Hargeisa, where the presidential palace, Ethiopian consulate and UN offices were targeted.

In Puntland, six intelligence officers were killed in their offices after two suicide attackers struck.

Authorities in Hargeisa are following a couple of leads including the house where the bombs were assembled and the mart where the cars used were purchased, our correspondent says.

The authorities have halted an ongoing voter-registration process while they beef up security around the city.

No-one has claimed responsibility for the attacks, but the US has said it believes they were carried out by militants linked to al-Qaeda.

These were the first suicide attacks in the two relatively stable regions.

Somaliland has declared independence from war-torn southern Somalia but this has not been internationally recognised.

The region is a US ally in the fight against Islamist militants in Somalia.

Elsewhere a group of Somali religious leaders have called for the release of several cleric, those were jailed by Somali government on charges of being Islamists fighters and waging war against TFG.

Speaking to Shabelle the religious leaders have announced that the clerics were innocent.

This comes as several clerics have been detained over the insurgency attack in Mogadishu.