Al-Shabaab reiterates opposition to new Somali leader

Thursday, February 12, 2009

BAIDOA, Somalia, Feb. 12 (Xinhua) -- The Islamist Al-Shabaab movement Thursday repeated its opposition to the newly elected Somali President Sharif Sheik Ahmed, vowing it will continue attacking African Union peacekeeping forces in Mogadishu.

"As far as we are concerned (President) Sharif (Sheik Ahmed) is not different from his predecessor Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed and we will continue the Jihad (holy war) against the invaders (African Union peacekeeper)," Shiek Muqtar Robow Abu Mansur said at a news conference in the southern town of Baidoa, former seat of Somali parliament and now stronghold of the movement.

Abu Mansur said that President Ahmed's government does not implement Islamic law in the war-torn Horn of Africa country and warned African countries considering sending their forces to Somalia as peacekeepers that they will come under attack from the group's fighters.

"We tell Nigeria not to send its troops to our country. If they tell you we will not fight you because the Ethiopians have left, that is a lie and we will fight you with the same ferocity as we did with the Ethiopian troops," Abu Mansuur said.

He denied recent media reports that he and the new Somali President met in Mogadishu, saying that is part of a "media war" against his group, the Al-Shabaab which is listed by the U.S. as a terrorist organization.

Abu Mansuur, the most senior member of the group to appear in public, said that none of his group's official ever met the Somali president during his visit to the capital Mogadishu this week and vowed that they "will never meet with him nor share anything with him".

President Ahmed revealed, shortly before his departure from Mogadishu, that he had "both direct and indirect meetings with some of the opposition leaders" without naming any particular group. He added his meetings with local civic, religious, and political leaders in Mogadishu were "successful" and that he was hopeful of peace in Somalia.

Meanwhile a number of mortar shells have been fired at the sea port in Mogadishu, where a ship carrying alleged supplies for the nearly 3,400 African Union peacekeeping forces was docked to off load the supplies of military hardware. There were no immediate reports of any casualties or damage as a result of the shells.

The shelling came hours after Abu Mansuur's statement that his forces were aware of the presence of the ship carrying military supplies for the African Union forces who have not responded to the mortar attacks with heavier artillery fire as they previously did.

Source: Xinhua, Feb 12, 2009

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