Militants fighting to overthrow Somalia's U.N.-backed government have
condemned talks at the African Union summit in Libya, where African
leaders are considering giving the African Union peacekeeping mission
in Somalia a stronger mandate to pursue and fight the insurgents.
A spokesman for Somalia's al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab
militant group, Ali Mohamed Rage warned Friday that any attempts to
expand the current mandate of the African Union peacekeeping mission,
known as AMISOM, would be met with violent resistance.
says the summit in Libya is being held to change the mandate of AMISOM
troops, so that they can destroy more Somali homes and kill more
The al-Shabab spokesman was alluding to charges
made by Somalis and international human rights groups, accusing AMISOM
of sometimes firing their weapons indiscriminately in response to
insurgent attacks and killing civilians. AMISOM has denied any
Since Ethiopia ended its occupation of Somalia in
January, al-Shabab has focused its guerrilla war on AMISOM and the
Somali government under moderate Islamist leader Sharif Sheik Ahmed.
Al-Shabab and another militant group called Hisbul Islam have rejected
President Sharif's call for reconciliation and have vowed to overthrow
Since early May, near-daily fighting between
government forces and rebels in Mogadishu has killed more than 300
people and has uprooted more than 170,000. Last month, the government
urged neighboring countries to send troops to Somalia to defend against
Somali extremists and foreign allies pouring into the country.
deteriorating security situation topped the agenda during a three-day
African Union summit in Libya that began on Wednesday.
sidelines of the summit on Thursday, Somali Foreign Minister Mohamed
Abdullahi Omar told the Reuters news agency that several more
battalions of AMISOM troops are likely to be deployed in Mogadishu and
that AMISOM's rules of engagement may be changed to allow the troops to
do more than defend against insurgent attacks.
created to help Somalia's secular transitional government stabilize the
country after Ethiopia ousted the country's ruling Islamic Courts Union
in December, 2006. The mission's mandate was limited to guarding key
sites in the capital and providing local humanitarian aid and support.
The African Union planned to have a force about 8,000 troops.
But a prolonged Islamist-led insurgency in Mogadishu and a chronic lack
of funding have kept several African countries from fulfilling their
pledge to contribute troops.
The mission currently has about
4,300 troops from Uganda and Burundi, who are largely confined to their
bases near the airport, seaport, and the presidential palace.