Somali rebels warn French advisors

Monday August 31 2009

Somali government soldiers patrol on a pick-up truck outside the presidential palace in the capital Mogadishu, August 26, 2009. Somali Islamists opposing the the country's Transitional Federal Government have warned the French government against sending more security advisors to Somalia.

Somali government soldiers patrol on a pick-up truck outside the presidential palace in the capital Mogadishu, August 26, 2009. Somali Islamists opposing the the country's Transitional Federal Government have warned the French government against sending more security advisors to Somalia. REUTERS 

By ABDULKADIR KHALIF, NATION Correspondent

MOGADISHU, Monday

Somali Islamists opposing the the country's Transitional Federal Government have warned the French government against sending more security advisors to Somalia.

This is in reaction to the news that the European country is to continue assisting the TFG, especially in its drive to build a strong security apparatus.

On Saturday, Sheikh Mohamed Ibrahim Bilal, the leader of Camalka Islaamka (Islamic Action), an Islamist group sympathetic to the armed groups in Somalia, expressed its opposition to France dispatching security advisors to Somalia. He insisted that any French official coming to Somalia will be kidnapped.

The threat comes only four days after a French official, Marc Aubrière, escaped from hostage takers in Mogadishu while another one who was also kidnapped by radical Islamists on July 14 remains in custody.

The official, who regained his freedom in an undisclosed manner, sought refuge at the presidential palace before flying to Nairobi, Kenya on August 26 and eventually to Paris.

French Foreign Minister, Bernard Kouchner recently told the media in Paris and quoted in the Somali media that his country will continue assisting the TFG. The minister added that France wanted to send military officials to train the government force in order to perk up security.

Kouchner reiterated that the fact that a French official remains hostage in Somalia would not deter his government from helping the TFG, as quoted by Xog-ogaal newspaper in Mogadishu on Sunday.

On Friday, 28th of August, an unidentified official from Al-Shabaab, the strongest Islamist movement opposing the TFG, told the local media that his group will sentence the French hostage that remains in captivity for spying. Probably the same source has told AFP, the French news agency, that Al-Shabaab will sentence the kidnapped hostage very soon, according to Somali media.

Meanwhile, Hizbu Islam, the second Islamist movement opposing the TFG, accused Ethiopian troops and the peacekeepers serving the African Union Mission in Somalia, Amisom, of being invaders of Somalia. This accusation has come at a time Ethiopian forces have been reported as chasing Islamist fighters from a regional capital in Central Somalia on Saturday.

Sheikh Musse Abdi Arale, the militia leader of Hizbu Islam, said that Somalia was being invaded from four fronts. “We are being attacked from all fronts and more invasions will follow the event in Beled-weyne,” said Sheikh Arale, talking to the media today in Mogadishu.

Moalim Hashi Mohamed Farah, the Governor of Hizbu Islam in Mogadishu, has today witnessed five youngsters being punished for different crimes. They were sentenced by Sharia (Islamic) laws strongly enforced by Al-Shabaab and Hizbu Islam.