Thousands of Somalis rallied today in the country’s main city, Mogadishu, demanding an end to the ongoing violence. The demonstration was held at a football stadium controlled by the Islamic Courts Union – one of two groups involved in the latest fighting. The rally was off limits to members of the rival group, the Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counter-Terrorism. The two warring factions continue to observe a tenuous truce requested by elders amid reports of sporadic fighting in northern Mogadishu.
Hussein Gutale is the spokesman for the Counter-Terrorism Alliance. In an interview with English to Africa reporter Ashenafi Abedje, Gutale says the latest fighting is between his group, which wants foreign terrorists out of Somalia, and the Courts Union, which harbors them. He says the terrorists hail from different countries. “Some came from Comoro Islands, some came from Kenya, some came from Tanzania, some came from Pakistan, some came from Afghanistan, and others come from other Arab countries.”
Gutale denies any connection between his group and the United States. “We do not have any financial support, relations with the Americans. But if Americans could support us to get rid of these bad guys, we would have appreciated. Not only Americans, but also all the international community. So far, we are not getting any financial support from anybody.” The spokesman says his group has no political agenda other than ridding his country of foreign terrorists.
Gutale says, “We have been invaded by people from Afghanistan. Some people want our country to establish a Taliban-style government in Mogadishu and Somalia as a whole. If the foreign terrorists leave our country, I am sure the Somalis themselves will sit down and talk and find lasting solution.”
After the interview, we ran a comment from State Department spokesman Sean McCormack, who had addressed the issue previously. He said, “We are working with individual members of the transitional government to try to create a better situation in Somalia. Our other operating principle is to work with responsible individuals and certainly members of the transitional government in fighting terror.”
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