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MOGADISHU, Somalia -- Remnants of Somalia's Islamic movement still pose a threat in the capital, the interior minister said Thursday, days after his government's and Ethiopian troops chased most of the militiamen from Mogadishu.
"There are 3,500 Islamists hiding in Mogadishu and the surrounding areas and they are likely to destabilize the security of the city,'' Interior Minister Hussein Aideed told journalists at a news conference. Aideed did not explain the source of his information or what prompted his comments after Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi said on Tuesday that major fighting had ended and he expected only minor violence ahead.
MOGADISHU, Somalia — Somali government troops backed by Ethiopian soldiers battled about 600 Islamic militiamen Thursday on the southern tip of this Horn of Africa nation, and U.S. Navy forces prevented the militants from fleeing by sea, authorities said.
A U.S. diplomat said she hoped peacekeepers from the region could be in place by month's end in Somalia, where the Council of Islamic Courts militias were driven from the capital of Mogadishu and much of the south last week. But peacekeepers could face bloody reprisals from the militias, who want to rule by the Quran and have vowed to launch an Iraqi-style guerrilla war.
Somalia hasn't had an effective central government in 15 years, and Mogadishu resident Musse Ali said foreigners will also have to protect themselves from warlords and freelance militiamen.
Jan 6, 2007 (MOGADISHU, Somalia) — Hundreds of furious protesters crowded the streets of Mogadishu on Saturday, burning tires, smashing car windows and shouting that they will not give up their guns despite the government’s call for total disarmament. At least two people were killed, including a 13-year-old boy, hospital officials said.
The violence exposed deep unrest in a city that is seeing its first legitimate governing force in more than a decade. Somali troops, backed by powerful Ethiopian soldiers and weapons, drove out a radical Islamic group last week that had been in control for six months.
"We are protesting against the disarmament and the Ethiopian presence in the country. We cannot accept disarmament under occupation," Haeyle Abdulle Hussein, 23, told The Associated Press. "We will wage a holy war instead."
The government announced it was indefinitely postponing its disarmament program yesterday, as about 100 residents of the Somali capital burned tires and looted vehicles to protest the plans to forcibly take their weapons.
The protesters gathered at Tribunk Square in a southern neighborhood of Mogadishu, shouting "Down, down with Ethiopia," in reference to troops from the neighboring country that have been instrumental in the transitional government's takeover of the capital from Islamists who controlled it for six months.
"We don't want disarmament only in Mogadishu, we want all the people [of Somalia] and all the clans to be disarmed simultaneously," said Dahail Abukar, a protester.
Mogadishu: Somalia's president returned to the beleaguered capital yesterday, his first visit since taking office, while his forces and Ethiopian troops laid siege to an Islamic movement's last military foothold.
President Abdullahi Yousuf took office in 2004 but had not set foot in Mogadishu for 40 years and has spent much of his time as Somalia's leader outside the country because he considered the capital unsafe.
His arrival came 10 days after his forces -backed by Ethiopian troops, tanks and warplanes - drove the Islamic movement out of the city.
NAIROBI, Jan 11 (Reuters) - Kenyan police on Thursday interrogated two al Qaeda suspects' wives caught fleeing Somalia, as mystery remained over whether their husbands survived a U.S. air strike.
The United States on Monday hit a village in southern Somalia in an attempt to take out an al Qaeda cell accused of bombing two U.S. embassies and an Israeli-owned hotel.
U.S. ally Ethiopia continued air attacks in Somalia on Tuesday and Wednesday in pursuit of fleeing Islamist fighters, but the Pentagon denied it had mounted more strikes.
Their arrival indicated that US intelligence claiming that the men were in the area was correct but local people say that the targets had left weeks earlier. Fishermen report hearing a lot of shooting since Monday, indicating classic follow-up actions in which American ground troops are reported to be taking part.
“We have heard a real racket, it began at dawn on Monday and then again we heard explosions followed by shooting on Tuesday and Wednesday,” said Abdul Mahmoud Saleh, a Swahili fisherman.
“We can go out at night but we are frightened because we hear planes above us in the air.” Military sources say that the US has spy planes flying over the area at night, but since the suspects do not use high-tech equipment it is unlikely that they garner any useful information
MOGADISHU, Somalia — The Somali parliament stripped the speaker position today from a top lawmaker who was closely associated with the recently ousted Islamic movement, a move the European Union said was disappointing and could hurt reconciliation efforts in the restive country.
Diplomats said the fired speaker, Sharif Hassan Sheik Aden, was capable of pulling together moderate elements in Somalia's Islamic movement. Today also saw the government's disarmament efforts receive a boost with three major warlords handing over vehicles and men.
Deputy Speaker Osman Ilmi Boqore announced the move against Aden in proceedings broadcast live on HornAfrik Radio. Lawmakers cited his public criticism of a proposed African peacekeeping mission that parliament had endorsed and his meetings with Islamic movement leaders without authority from parliament.
The Union of the Islamic Courts reject to hold talks with Ethiopia as long as its troops remain in Somalia. They further said that one of their leader went Nairobi at the request of the US Ambassador in the neighboring country.
Sheikh Sharrif Sheikh AhmedMustafa Ahmed, adviser to Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, a leader of the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC), has told the Spanish daily La Razon that his organization will not negotiate with Ethiopia as long as its troops remain in Somalia. Ahmed called on the USA to stop bombarding the country and denied the UIC had any links to Al-Qaeda.
He reaffirmed the position of the UIC in favor of peaceful negotiations with all the concerned sides from the EU, USA and the Somali government. He further added that the starting of the talks is subjected to the withdrawal of the Ethiopian troops from the country.
ADDIS ABABA, Jan 31 (Reuters) - An African summit ended on Wednesday with a proposed peacekeeping force for Somalia still lacking firm commitments for thousands of troops, despite fears the country could plunge back into anarchy.
Much of the second day of the African Union (AU) summit was dominated by discussions on the need to urgently raise 8,000 troops for Somalia.
The force is required to fill a vacuum when Ethiopian troops pull out soon, after ousting Islamists who ruled much of the Horn of Africa country for six months.