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Somali President Rejects UN Figures on Humanitarian Crisis

The president of Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government says civilians, who have been killed in attacks by government and Ethiopian troops, have themselves to blame. President Abdullahi Yusuf says that’s because they allow Islamist fighters to use their neighborhoods to launch attacks.

In an interview with VOA here in Washington, he defended Ethiopian troops and those of his transitional government against charges that they are using heavy weaponry in civilian neighborhoods. More than 80 civilians, including 11 in a mosque, were killed last weekend in Mogadishu. President Yusuf called all those opposed to his government terrorists who intend to use force to take over the country’s leadership.

Answering a question on the humanitarian crisis, Mr. Yusuf insisted that aid agencies are lying about the number of people who need humanitarian assistance. UN officials estimate their number to be more than two million. He says that in fact those same agencies are re-selling food aid.

The president said al-Qaida terrorists have infiltrated Somalia and his government is calling on the United States and the United Nations to help it flush them out.