The leader of a Somali Islamist militant group told VOA Somali Service
in an exclusive interview Saturday that his militants will keep
fighting, even though the conflict has recently led to about 2,000
civilian deaths, and turned half-a-million Somalis into refugees in
their own country.
Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, the leader of
the militant group Hizbul Islam, said his fighters will keep battling
the Somali government, and African Union peacekeepers in every possible
He defended tactics such as firing mortars from areas
populated by civilians, saying "The Mujahid (holy warrior) is like a
fish ... the population is his water." Aweys added, "The population
acts like a shield and we operate out of them." He also defended
suicide attacks, calling them part of the resistance.
returning from exile in May, Aweys, a former Somali army colonel, is
credited with building Hizbul Islam into a powerful force that,
together with the Islamist militant group al-Shabab, has taken control
of many parts of southern Somalia, including much of the capital of
The militants are trying to overthrow Somalia's
moderate Islamic government and replace it with a regime that will
impose strict Islamic Sharia law.