Clashes erupt between Somalia's Islamist groups, kill 7

At least seven people were killed in fighting between rival Islamist groups in Somalia on Saturday, one of the factions said.

Clashes erupt between Somalia's Islamist groups, kill 7

At least seven people were killed in fighting between rival Islamist groups in Somalia on Saturday, one of the factions said.

The clashes between relative moderates and al Shabaab fighters flared a day after Ethiopia announced it had begun withdrawing troops who have been backing up a weak transitional government in the Horn of Africa nation.

"Shabaab attacked us again this morning but we chased them and killed six of them," cliamed Sheikh Abdullahi Abu Yusuf, a leader of the Ahlu Sunna Waljamaca group.

"Al Shabaab has killed one of our Sheikhs near Mogadishu," he told Reuters. "We shall fight them till the story of Al Shabaab becomes extinct."

Ahlu Sunna Waljamaca accuses Shabaab of hunting down and killing its religious leaders, and desecrating graves, acts they are against Islamic teachings.

Al-Shabaab groups says it fights for an Islamic ruling in Somalia and rejected the agreement between government and moderate Islamist group, saying any deal must include us.

Analysts says the departure of the Ethiopian troops will leave a potentially dangerous power vacuum. There is no sign of reinforcements being sent to strengthen an African peacekeeping force of 3,200.

But diplomats say the Ethiopian departure may take the sting out of the Islamist insurgency, which has become a nationalist cause and holds sway in much of southern and central Somalia.

They also see this week's resignation of President Abdullahi Yusuf as an opportunity to forge an inclusive government which can work for peace. Ethiopia is withdrawing troops because of its frustrations with Somalia's fractious politics.

Residents of villages in central Somalia, close to the border with Ethiopia, said they saw a convoy of about 30 Ethiopian vehicles leave on Friday evening.

"They have been in this area in the past few months keeping an eye on Islamist movements in central Somalia. They left nothing here, they even removed their tents," said Ali Said Hersi, a resident of Balanballe village.

Reuters
Last Mod: 03 Ocak 2009, 15:49
Add Comment