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Major Somali Islamic Official Reportedly in Kenya

A major official of the Islamic Courts Union is reportedly in Kenya to discuss with Kenyan government representatives the situation in Somalia. As Cathy Majtenyi reports for VOA from Nairobi, there appears to be some confusion as to the details of the meeting.

A Western aid worker with operations in Somalia told VOA that Ibrahim Adow, a foreign affairs official with the Islamic Courts Union, flew out of Mogadishu early Thursday morning to Nairobi at the request of the Kenyan government, ostensibly to discuss with them the recent fighting.

The aid worker had no details about the meeting.

Attempts by VOA to contact Kenyan government officials for verification were unsuccessful.

Somalia's foreign affairs minister, Esmael Mohamud Hurreh, tells VOA that he has also heard of Adow's presence in Kenya but could not get any information when he contacted the Kenyan government and the European Commission.

"The Kenyans told me it's the Europeans who brought them here, and the Europeans are telling me it's the Kenyans who brought them here," Hurreh says. "And that's a mystery we want to know."

Hurreh says he thinks everyone wants to distance themselves from the Islamic Courts Union. He says he has heard that top Islamic officials have fled to Djibouti, Eritrea, and other locations.

After a week of heavy fighting, the Islamists Thursday abandoned Mogadishu as government troops encircled the city, the Islamists' base.

Earlier this year, the Islamic Courts Union seized control of the capital and other areas before reaching a truce with the government.

The two sides signed a peace accord in September that, among other things, called for the creation of a joint national army and police force.

But negotiations Somalia's transitional government and the Islamic Courts Union that were meant to finalize the accord collapsed in Sudan on November 2.

The Islamists said they would not continue the negotiations until all Ethiopian troops that are supporting the transitional government leave Somalia.