Sunday, February 19, 2012

Shabaab suicide bombers to launch series of attacks in time with David Cameron conference - Telegraph

Somalia's al-Qaeda-partnered Islamist insurgents vowed to launch a "series of suicide bombings" to coincide with David Cameron's London conference on the war-torn country this week.

Global effort to rebuild Somalia excluding Shabaab-controlled areas
Global effort to rebuild Somalia excluding Shabaab-controlled areas Photo: EPA

The warning, from senior al-Shabaab leaders and repeated on the militants' Twitter page, came after seven Somali officers were injured when a car-bomb exploded at a police station in Mogadishu, the capital.

"The explosion was the beginning of a series of suicide and bombing attacks that mujahedeen fighters plan to carry out in Mogadishu in the coming days," Sheikh Abdulaziz Abu Musab, an al-Shabaab spokesman, said.

On its Twitter feed, al-Shabaab added that it "hereby warns all Muslims of Somalia to stay away from the enemy bases in order to avoid being unintentional victims of this new campaign".

The intensified bombing campaign appears timed to show that the Islamists are not a spent force, as heads of state and senior Somali officials gather at Lancaster House in London for the largest international conference on Somalia, on Thursday.

The meeting, called by the Prime Minister, aims to "galvanise efforts to find solutions to long-standing Somali challenges", in the words of British officials.

Ahead of the meeting, Somalia's transitional government and MPs agreed on Sunday/yesterday to new governing structures once their interim mandate expires in August.

The current bloated 550-seat parliament, until recently funded by international aid, will be trimmed to a lower house of 225 MPs and an upper chamber of just 54. At least 30 percent of both houses will be women, the deal signed in the town of Garowe said.

It is the latest attempt to forge a unified, if federal, Somalia from the disparate fiefdoms and clan-run regions that have fought one another on and off for the last two decades.

That violence has created what William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, earlier this month called "the world's most failed state" during a visit to Mogadishu.

Al-Shabaab, which controls most of central and southern Somalia where its fighters are battling African Union-backed government forces as well as Kenyan and Ethiopian troops, immediately condemned the deal.

"The agreement is treason because it is part of a master plan of the international community to send Somalia back to colonisation," Sheikh Ali Mohamud Rage, a second al-Shabaab spokesman, told reporters.

"The mujahedeen fighters will not accept such conferences and their outcomes - instead we fight against them and, with the help of Allah, we will win the war."

Somalia has been without an effective central government since 1991, and the leadership in the capital Mogadishu is propped up by a 10,000-strong AU force from Uganda, Burundi and Djibouti.

Kenyan troops are expected to join them, under AU command, following the London conference.

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