Somalia's new administration has sharply denied being behind
the weekend assassination of a senior insurgent commander who recently defected from
the government side to join an armed opposition group.
Abelkadir Hassan Abu
Qatatow was reportedly shot dead by armed assailants as he walked on the street
in the capital Mogadishu.
Qatatow was a commander of pro-government Islamist
faction, the Islamic Courts Union (ICU), but defected last week to the
hard-line insurgent group Hezbul Islam.
spokesman Abdi Kadir Walayo told VOA that the government, which
discourages the killing of any Somali citizen, condemns Qatatow's
know, since the government is the sole representative of the people of Somalia,
the government doesn't encourage killing people without any justification,"
He said the relative peace the
capital is currently enjoying could be attributed President Sheik Sharif's
administration's effort to restore peace despite insurgent attacks.
"Of course, the government
is doing its best to pacify and to stabilize the country, especially the
capital of Mogadishu, which was sometimes a bellicose area. But not it is
quiet," he said.
Walayo said the government
intends calming down tensions after weeks of deadly clashes between government
forces and insurgents aiming to topple the new administration.
"Since two weeks ago, there
were no armed confrontations, and it seems that this can be attributed to the
government efforts to diffuse all tensions existing in the capital city,"
He insisted that the new
administration would not be swayed away from its open door policy of inviting
all groups to participate in finding a lasting solution to the country's
"The government is ready to
meet anytime, anywhere with those opposition groups that are not happy with
government," he said.
Walayo said despite
government forces coming under insurgent attacks, which have often led to
scores dead, the new administration would still hold talks with the opposition.
"The government's policy is
based on the Djibouti agreement that envisages the accommodation of all
political groupings, especially the opposition to be part of the mainstream of
the government process," Walayo said.
He denied the government had
a hand in the killing of insurgent commander Qatatow.
"You know that it happened
somewhere, which is one of the strongholds of the opposition groups," he said.
Walayo said President Sheikh
Sharif's administration wants to minimize fatalities of ordinary civilians.
"The government is now
refraining from full fighting against the opposition to avoid casualties of the
opposition population," Walayo said.
Hard-line Islamic insurgents currently control much of the south
and center of Somalia, including nearly two-thirds of Mogadishu, while Somali
government forces backed by nearly 4,300
troops from the African Union (AMISOM peacekeepers) control parts of the
capital and the central Somali town of Beledweyn.
Qatatow's death follows clashes between insurgents and government forces
battling for the control of Mogadishu.
Hundreds have reportedly
been killed or injured in the clashes, while tens of thousands have fled their
homes to seek refuge in camps for internally displaced people (IDP's) on the
outskirts of Mogadishu.
Somalia has been without an
effective government since 1991 after former President Mohammed Siad Barre
through a coup d'état.