Somalia's beleaguered U.N.-supported government says the country is in
danger of being taken over by Islamist militants with ties to
al-Qaida. It has sent out an appeal for neighboring countries to
intervene militarily in Somalia within the next 24 hours.
to reporters in the capital Mogadishu Saturday, Somali Parliament
Speaker Sheik Aden Mohamed Nur "Madobe" made a startling appeal.
speaker says the government has been weakened by rebel forces and now
needs military intervention from Somalia's neighbors - Djibouti,
Ethiopia, Kenya, and Yemen - in the next 24 hours.
remarks made by Somali President Sheik Sharif Sheikh Ahmed in recent
days, Madobe says the government is fighting al-Qaida, which has
established bases in Somalia and is determined to take over the
Reports say two days of heavy fighting in north
Mogadishu between government and pro-government forces and Islamist
insurgent groups, led by al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab and its ally Hisbul
Islam, have prompted thousands of people to flee from the area. The
neighborhoods currently under siege once provided refuge for residents
fleeing violence in other parts of the capital. Both warring sides are
claiming victory, but there has been no independent confirmation.
Friday, gunmen kidnapped and killed Mohamed Hussein Adow, a lawmaker
close to President Sharif. He was the third government official to be
killed violently in as many days. On Thursday, the country's security
minister, Omar Hashi Aden, died in a suicide bombing at a hotel in
Beletweyne near the border with Ethiopia.
its troops from Somalia in January after an unpopular two-year military
intervention to prop up Somalia's weak secular government. A moderate
Islamist president was elected by an expanded Somali parliament to lead
a new unity government made up of Islamists and secular politicians.
hard-line Islamists have rejected the government as being pro-Western.
Hundreds of foreigners have been seen fighting alongside the rebels in
recent months, prompting fears that al-Qaida is providing the support
the rebels need to oust the government.
Despite repeated denials
from the government in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia is believed to have
already deployed hundreds of troops back into Somalia in recent weeks
to counter the growing military strength of al-Shabab. Ethiopia is
also said to have given training to pro-government militias now
fighting on the frontlines.
Meanwhile, the Somali government and
the United States charge that Ethiopia's arch enemy in the region,
Eritrea, is fanning violence by providing arms and weapons to Somali
extremists as part of a continuing proxy war against Ethiopia.
Friday, Kenya, which suffered two al-Qaida-related terrorist attacks on
its soil in 1998 and 2002, indicated that it was willing to consider
sending troops to Somalia. Kenya's Foreign Minister Moses Wetangula
said the threat posed by Somali militants was too great to ignore.
will not sit back and watch the situation in Somalia deteriorate beyond
where it is. We have a duty - a constitutional duty as a country and
as a government - to protect our strategic interests including our
security," he said.
Horn of Africa analysts and observers have
long warned that the conflict in Somalia had the potential to trigger a
wider regional war.