The Africa Union Peace Keeping Mission
in Somalia (AMISOM) has sharply denied accusations it was shelling homes of
innocent civilians. This follows seven days of deadly clashes between hard line
Islamic insurgents and government forces which reportedly left at least 139
dead and scores injured. The hard line Islamic insurgent group, al-Shabaab says
it would intensify its attacks after its commander escaped an assassination
attempt that it blamed on the government. The group has refused to recognize
the new administration promising to eventually take over the country.
Barigye Ba-Huko is the spokesman for AMISOM. He told VOA that the insurgents
are using the shelling as an excuse to attack AMISOM bases.
believe that the allegations that are being peddled to be emanating from the
population are allegations of those forces who are opposed to the peace
process. They are trying to create an excuse of attacking AMISOM positions,"
said the hard line insurgents have found excuses to continue their insurgency
against the new Somali government.
forget that previously they have given all sorts of conditions for them to join
the dialogue table and among them were initially the presence of the Ethiopian
National Defense forces…after that they said AMISOM should leave before they
negotiate," he said.
expressed skepticism about the alleged genuine intentions of the insurgent
can assure you that even if AMISOM left today, tomorrow these guys would come
up with another excuse," Ba-Huko said.
said the accusation being leveled against the African Union troops is a pretext
for the insurgents to attack AMISOM positions.
said the peace keepers would not be drawn into an all out warfare with the
know their tactics, we are prepared for those tactics and we are not ready to
fall into their tactics of pulling us into the conflict," Ba-Huko said.
said it was not clear if the allegations of extortions by insurgents are true.
AMISOM we have not been able to verify those allegations, but going by the
behavior of all those forces that have been opposed to the peace process, we
would not have any doubt in our minds that it is possible," he said.
said it was apparent that the insurgents are making their own rules and
implementing them with sheer brute force and intimidation.
was a situation in the Bakara market and we were informed that the business
community was being held at ransom. And they would have to part with something…
and those who are not able to do that would have to lose their lives," Ba-Huko
said the insurgents are taking advantage of the weakness of the new Somali
is a relatively new government it's not been able to consolidate its power and
that is the advantage that the forces that oppose the peace process are
taking," he said.
said the Africa Union forces would not renege on their mandate to fully support
the new Somali administration led by President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed.
AMISOM, among other tasks that we are supposed to implement here or to carry on
is the task of participation or helping in the national security stabilization
plan," Ba-Huko said.
Some political observers believe years of conflict in
Somalia has killed tens of thousands, displaced millions more, defied 15
attempts to establish central rule and created one of the world's worst aid
They say the country's 18 years of anarchy has left
millions displaced, killed tens of thousands and created one of the world's
worst aid crises. Attacks on relief workers, extortion and regular clashes have
hampered groups trying to work there.
Somalia has been without an effective government since
1991 after President Mohammed Siad Barre was overthrown through a coup d'état.
Many diplomats see President Sheikh Shari Sheikh Ahmed's
new administration as one of the latest attempts at restoring peace to