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Somali President Rejects Human Rights Watch Criticism


Somalia's interim president has rejected a human rights group report that accused all parties in the Somali conflict of committing war crimes.

In an interview with VOA Somali service Tuesday, President Abdullahi Yusuf said the report from Human Rights Watch was created by people who, in his words, do not want to see peace in Somalia.

He said it is the insurgents in Somalia who should be condemned for rights violations. The president said the transitional government is doing all it can to stabilize Somalia, which he said is a very difficult thing to do.

He said insurgents are using civilians as human shields and that the government is doing everything it can to isolate them from populated areas.

Human Rights Watch based its accusations on what it called an on the ground investigation of fighting that wracked Mogadishu in March and April.

The report criticized insurgents for placing civilians at great risk by deploying in neighborhoods.

It also says Ethiopian troops who back the government bombed civilian areas indiscriminately, and that the government impeded relief efforts for displaced people.

In the interview, President Yusuf rejected a proposal by his prime minister, Ali Mohamed Ghedi to create a safe zone in the capital, similar to the green zone in Baghdad, to protect government institutions and officers. Mr. Ahmed said his government intends to secure the entire country.

Fighting since January has killed thousands of people in Mogadishu and forced hundreds of thousands more to flee to safer areas.

Government efforts to shut down the insurgency and broker peace between Somalia's warring clans and factions have yet to succeed.

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