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Somalis Celebrate bin Laden's Death

People read local newspapers reporting the death of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, in the streets of Somalia's capital Mogadishu, May 3, 2011

Hundreds of Somalis marched through the capital, Mogadishu, on Wednesday to celebrate the death of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

The demonstrators also chanted slogans calling for an end to terrorism and violence by the al-Qaida-linked militant group al-Shabab.

Government troops guarded the demonstrators as they walked through a government-controlled section of the city.

Al-Shabab controls parts of the capital and large sections of southern and central Somalia. A spokesman for the Islamist rebels has threatened revenge attacks for bin Laden's death.

Somali officials have expressed hope that bin Laden's death will diminish al-Qaida's ability to support al-Shabab. Hundreds of al-Qaida fighters are believed to be helping the insurgents.

The United Nations-backed government is engaged in a major offensive to push back al-Shabab and has made significant gains in recent weeks.

Al-Shabab is trying to overthrow the transitional government and impose a harshly conservative form of Islamic law across Somalia.

Somali Prime Minister Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed told VOA Somali service on Monday that his government welcomes bin Laden's killing but is bracing for possible retaliation.

The prime minister had scornful words for bin Laden, saying he portrayed Islam as a violent religion. He said Somalia is a victim of al-Qaida and terrorist activity.