Somali warlords refuse to end militia battle

March 29, 2006

Mogadishu - A group of Somali businessmen calling themselves the Alliance for Restoration of Peace and Counter-Terrorism vowed on Tuesday to continue battling militias allied to the Islamic courts in Mogadishu, rejecting mediation efforts to broker a peace deal.

"The solution will be the barrels of our guns and we will continue the war until we succeed," said Mohamed Dere, a warlord from the Shabelle region who went to Mogadishu to attend a coalition meeting.

An uneasy calm returned to Mogadishu after four days of fierce fighting - said to be the worst in recent years - that killed 70 people and wounded hundreds more as the Islamic courts try to wrest control of the city in the hands of warlords since Somalia's government was overthrown in 1991.

The sharia courts also continue to hold rallies in a bid to explain the ills of the warlords who have run for Mogadishu for 15 years, and why a moral takeover of the war-scarred city was necessary.

"I summon all of the people to fight the jihad against the devils' coalition," said Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, chairperson of the Islamic courts union. He warned that "we will give the oppressors another unprecedented lesson from which they will never recover".

The warlords-turned-politicians formed the new alliance, said to be supported by the United States, to curb the growing power of the brutal but efficient courts, currently the only functioning law enforcement agency in the war-scarred city.

Meanwhile, the European Union has expressed concern at the continuing tension in Mogadishu. EU president Jose Manuel Barroso gave an assurance of the EU's continued support to Abdullah Yusuf Ahmed, president of the Somali Transitional Federal Government, and Prime Minister Ali Mohammed Ghed. - Sapa-dpa

Source: dpa, Mar 29, 2006

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