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Somali Opposition Warns of Full-Scale War

Somali opposition figures are warning of an all-out war to expel Ethiopian troops backing the country's transitional government.

The warning came at a conference of opposition leaders that began Thursday in the Eritrean capital of Asmara.

An opposition spokesman, Zakariya Mahamud Abdi, said violence has escalated in the Somali capital of Mogadishu since Ethiopian troops along with transitional government forces broke Islamist control over large areas of Somalia earlier this year. And he predicted a full-scale war across Somalia will soon break out.

The 450 conference delegates have been highly critical of the Ethiopian troop presence. They opened their meeting with a demand that Ethiopia withdraw its troops. They also have been critical of U.S. support for Ethiopia's efforts in Somalia.

Among the conference delegates was Islamic Courts Union leader Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, who is wanted by the United States for his alleged involvement with al-Qaida.

Aweys is the main leader of the Islamist movement that controlled much of Somalia last year until its fighters were routed by Ethiopian-backed government forces.

Organizers of the conference say they want to create a political group that will bring peace to the Horn of Africa nation.

The Somali government recently held a national reconciliation conference that Islamist supporters boycotted. The conference ended with no tangible progress towards peace in Somalia.

The country has endured 16 years of chaos and conflict, since the last central government fell in 1991.

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