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Somali Islamist group gives gov't forces five-day ultimatum to surrender

Monday, July 06, 2009

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MOGADISHU, July 6 (Xinhua) -- The leader of the Islamist Al-Shabaab movement in Somalia, whose forces have been fighting Somali government troops for the past weeks, has overnight given Somali government forces and officials an ultimatum of five days to surrender or face Islamic prosecutions.

The Somali government dismissed the group's statement as meaningless and called for the groups' leader to join the peace process.

Speaking in an audio tape, secluded Emir of Al-Shabaab, Sheikh Mukhtar Abu Zuhyar, said the current Somali government's imminent collapse was inevitable, called government forces to surrender their weapons and threatened to put government officials on what he termed an Islamic Court.

Abu Zuhyar also said senior Somali government officials would be prosecuted by the group's Islamic courts.

The Somali government has dismissed the statement of the Al-Shabaab leader who it said was in hiding and fighting for his survival.

"How can a man who cannot even expose himself to his forces ask the Somali government forces to surrender?" said Sheikh Yusuf Indha Adde, Somali state minister for defense who called on the group's leader to come out of hiding and have dialogues.

Abu Zuhayr, whose real name is Ahmed Godane, said in the audio tape aired on local radio stations late on Sunday the Jihads (holy wars) in a number of Islamic countries were linked and praised what he termed as the "world Jihad leadership" including Osama bin Laden, leader of Al-Qaida network, Ayman Adawaheri, second to Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar, spiritual leader of the Taliban in Afghanistan.

"The aim of the world Jihad is the implementation of the word of Allah in the world," Abu Zuhayr added.

Al-Shabaab fighters have been waging concerted attacks against Somali government forces around the presidential palace in Mogadishu where the heaviest fighting have lately been taking place since breaking out on May 7.

Al-Shabaab, the largest insurgent group in Somalia, is listed by the United States as a terrorist organization with links to Al-Qaida network. The hard-line group controls much of southern and central Somalia.

The East African country has been without a strong unified central government since the overthrow of the late ruler Mohamed Siyad Barre in 1991.

Source: Xinhua, July 06, 2009

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