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>> Asharq al-Awsat


AL-QAEDA ELEMENTS ARE ACTIVE IN MOGADISHU

Asharq al-Awsat - February 18, 2010 by Khaled Mahmoud Somali Interior Minister Abdiqadir Ali Omar has accused the Mujahidin Youth Movement, which is opposed to the transitional authority and the African peacekeeping forces in Somalia, of being behind the failed attempt to assassinate Somali Defense Minister Yusuf Mohammed Siad in the capital Mogadishu the day before yesterday, in which at least two civilians were killed by a suicide bomber driving an explosive-laden vehicle. Abdiqadir said in a telephone interview with Asharq Al-Awsat from Mogadishu: "They tried to assassinate the defense minister and we believe the Youth Movement was behind this terrorist operation." He added: "Regrettably, the movement's aims are sabotage and spreading chaos in the country. They are declaring they are (Al-Qaeda) followers and this has been reported in the various media organs." Regarding the military operation which government troops are preparing to launch to expel the Islamist rebels from the capital, the Somali interior minister told Asharq Al-Awsat: "We do not want to divulge any information but the government wants to achieve stability and peace in the entire capital and we believe that it will succeed in, what he called, this difficult mission." After pointing out that Al-Qaeda organization is active in Somalia and its followers are present in the capital, he said: "We do not know their numbers but there are in fact many foreigners in Mogadishu." He added that his government was in need of more aid and pointed out that the Somali people have been suffering from wars for a long time and the Somalia Government needs aid from the Arab League and its member states. The Somali Government announced few weeks ago its intention to launch a major military operation against the Islamist rebels with the support of the African peacekeeping forces. The Youth Movement and Islamic Party rebels strengthened their positions in the capital which saw the exodus of many fleeing from the expected battles. However, Saeed Mursi, the outgoing Egyptian ambassador to Somalia, is not optimistic that an immediate solution can be found for the Somali crisis. Mursi, who will return to Cairo in July, said in a telephone interview with Asharq Al-Awsat from his office in the Kenyan capital Nairobi: "I am sad because there is still fighting between the Somalis. I used to hear before some people saying that the Somali crisis was similar to the Palestinian cause. This is wrong and an incorrect comparison. Hope of a solution remains weak as long as the Somalis are fighting each other." Due to the unstable security situations in the Somali capital, Ambassador Mursi continued to do his job as non-resident ambassador to Somalia from neighboring Kenya. He denied that his country was ignoring the Somali crisis and said: " Our interest in this crisis is very big and we are eager to see the situations in this country stabilize in the interest of Somalia first, the Horn of Africa second, and the region as a whole." He pointed out: "There is an active Egyptian move with all the Somali and international parties aimed at seeking national reconciliation in Somalia and we are dealing with all the other international parties to achieve Somalia's interest."





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