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Somali Government Determined to Defeat Insurgents, Says Minister

Somalia's new administration says it would maintain its objective of reconciling the nation and restoring security despite stiff challenges from hard line Islamic insurgents. This comes after hard line Islamic insurgents belonging to al-Shabaab Monday captured the town of Mahaday, the birth place of President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed. Political observers say the insurgent takeover of Mahaday, another strategic town north of the Capital, Mogadishu is an attempt to embarrass the president. Described by Washington as a terrorist organization with strong ties to Al Qaeda, al-Shabaab has refused to recognize the new administration.

Farhan Ali Mohamud is Somalia's information minister. He told VOA that the new government will in due course defeat the insurgents.

"As you know, this government's objective is to reconcile and create peace and opportunities where it is possible," Ali Mohamud said.

He said the hard liners are bent on ensuring that the new Somali government fails by seizing towns that the insurgents know would produce little or no resistance from government security forces.

"What happened yesterday and the day before yesterday was that the insurgents have captured the town of Jowhar which is 90 kilometers from here. A very decent farming community with actually no expectation of the on-coming of enemy forces," he said.

Ali Mohamud said the government is determined to repel the attacks of the insurgents.

"Our government is from today on trying to organize a counter-attack in any way we can," Ali Mohamud said.

He said Mogadishu has set in motion plans to hold negotiations with those who would help in its efforts to retake the towns captured by the insurgents.

"First, we will consult with the locals; we will consult with pro-government Islamists militias who were there… we would act on that. So, that is our aims to today on Tuesday," he said.

Ali Mohamud dismissed as unfounded analysts who suggest the seizure of the birth place of the president by insurgents was aimed to humiliate him.

"Actually the president is not embarrassed or shamed in that he is the president of the whole country. This country has been in a mess for nearly 20 years and the president doesn't care less on Mahaday which is one of the cities that they have got down yesterday," Ali Mohamud said.

He expressed confidence that the new Somali administration would defeat the insurgents.

"We intend to actually save this country from savagery …caused by al-Shabaab and the foreign allies and foreign Islamist forces," he said.

Ali Mohamud said the insurgents aim to cause confusion in the whole horn of Africa.

"They do not only want to cause havoc across this country, but (also) regionally and globally. They have this global vision to extend their wicked ideologies and our government will eventually with the help of our communities and… every district which are already beside us, we will eventually defeat and beat back al-Shabaab," Ali Mohamud said.

He said the government is sure of victory over the insurgents.

"We are very confident of that. Either tomorrow or the next day I can't say, but action has already started and we are very confident that we will win over the al-Shabaab and their foreign Islamist allies," he said.

Ali Mohamud said the reported divisions in government seem to be driving the insurgents to destabilize the country.

"That is one of the ideas that have given the very first thinking to attack us. It is true that that was their intention, but we've got the better edge for the time being," Ali Mohamud said.

Hard liner insurgent group al Shabaab seized Jowhar close to the capital, Mogadishu on Sunday and reports say hundreds of gunmen from another insurgent group -- Hizbul Islam -- marched into nearby Mahaday on Monday and took control without firing a shot.

Somalia has been without an effective government after the overthrow of former President Mohammed Siad Barre in 1991 through a coup d'état.