Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Ethiopia says Somalia 'a threat'

The new leader of the Islamist group that controls much of southern Somalia is a threat to Ethiopia, says Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.

Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys was head of al-Itihaad al-Islamiya, a group accused of having links to al-Qaeda.

Ethiopia helped Somalia's now interim president, Abdullahi Yusuf, defeat al-Itihaad in the 1990s.

The United States has said it will not deal with Mr Aweys, because of "links to terrorism", a charge he denies.

Mr Meles says security along its border has been increased in case of "the resurgence of Jihadists in Mogadishu".

Last week, Mr Awey's Somali Supreme Islamic Courts Council and the interim government, which is largely toothless and based north of the capital in Baidoa, agreed not to fight each other.

The recent advances of the Islamists have renewed fears of major conflict in Somalia, which has not had an effective national government for 15 years.

Full report BBC 28 June 2006.


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