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Somali Government Says Plane Delivered Weapons to Islamist Militants


Somalia's government says a cargo plane that landed in Mogadishu Wednesday was carrying weapons for Islamist militias.

Journalists saw the plane land at the city's Islamist-controlled airport but were ordered away from the scene by authorities.

Officials from the government say the aircraft was carrying guns, explosives and other weapons supplied by Eritrea.

Eritrean Information Minister Ali Abdu denied the accusation in an interview with VOA, calling the charge a total fabrication.

Tension between Somalia's government and Islamic authorities has been rising despite U.N. efforts to arrange new peace talks.

Islamic authorities whose forces control much of southern Somalia said Tuesday that they will not negotiate as long as Ethiopian troops are on Somali soil.

Ethiopia denies sending troops across the border. But numerous witnesses report seeing the troops in Baidoa - the base of the transitional government.

Ethiopia has said it will defend the transitional government, which has little power outside Baidoa.

Ethiopia, a mainly Christian country, is believed to oppose the possible creation of a hard-line Islamic state on its doorstep. The Islamic authorities have moved to implement a strict form of sharia (Islamic) law in the areas under their control.

The United States has urged Somalia's government and Islamists to resume talks that resulted in a non-aggression and mutual-recognition pact last month.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.