First Published: 2006-08-01

 
Islamists gain ground in central Somalia
 

Militiamen from Hawiye give up their weapons, vow to support Islamists in their quest to impose Sharia law.

 

Middle East Online

Islamists are aiming to extend their control to the Mugud region

MOGADISHU - Hardline Islamists on Tuesday widened their control in central Somalia after local militiamen gave up their weapons and vowed to support the Islamists in their quest to impose Sharia law in the shattered Horn of Africa nation.

Militiamen from the dominant Hawiye clan handed over at least 50 battlewagons - pickups mounted with machineguns - to the Supreme Islamic Council of Somalia (SICS) in Adado township in the central Galgudud region.

"We came here by the wishes of the locals not by force," said Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, the head of SICS.

"Our main objective is to establish an Islamic court here in central regions," said Aweys, who has set up shop in the central region, south of the semi-autonomous northeastern Somali region of Puntland, which was formerly controlled by transitional President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed.

Aweys said the Islamists, who control the capital Mogadishu and much of southern Somalia, were aiming to extend their control to the Mugud region in their bid to stop piracy, rampant in Haradere, about 300 kilometres (185 miles) north of Mogadishu.

"We will eradicate Somali pirates by reaching where they are based including Haradere" he said.

Local leaders said they would back the Islamists, whose growing influence has threatened the authority of the transitional government, in their efforts to entrench theocracy in the country, home to about 10 million people.

"We are giving (the courts) weapons to help the enforcement of Sharia law," said Sultan Ali Ahmed Nur, a clan elder who oversaw the handing over of the weapons.

The transitional government based in the southcentral town of Baidoa, formed in Kenya in late 2004 after more than two years of peace talks, was seen as the best chance for the lawless nation to set up a functioning administration since the ouster of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991.

Since then more than 14 internationally backed initiatives have failed to produce a government, with analysts blaming unruly warlords who obtained arms and other forms of support from neighbouring countries despite a UN arms embargo.

In addition to the conflict, Somalia has been wracked by famine and floods for the better part of 15 years, sending hundreds of thousands of refugees into neighbouring states while others embark on perilous boat rides across the Gulf of Aden to Yemen.

 

Lebanon protesters to government: Meet our demands of face escalation

Algeria detains former intelligence chief

Two French journalists charged with bid to blackmail Morocco King

Eni discovers ‘supergiant’ gas field inside Egypt territorial waters

Calls for action on refugee crisis mount after Austrian tragedy

Egypt summons British envoy in row over Al-Jazeera trial

Yemen war seeks to stop ‘Iran expansion’ in Arab region

Kuwait lawmaker describes Iran as 'true enemy' of Gulf Arabs

Kurdish forces free seven Iraq villages from clasps of ISIS

Toll in Libya shipwreck tragedy rises to 111

Egypt court hands Al-Jazeera reporters three years in prison

UN to host new round of Libya peace talks next week

US names ‘First Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs’

Mounting death toll of security forces triggers questions in Turkey

Deadly terrorist blast rocks Karanah suburb in Bahrain

Brief truce between Syria regime and rebels collapses

Al-Qaeda lashes 10 in Yemen for blasphemy, alcohol

Turkey PM to form cabinet ahead of November polls

Iraq PM orders forces to prepare to open Green Zone

71 'Syrians' dead in Austria truck tragedy

UN conference on plight of minorities persecuted by IS

Spain judge accuses suspect of running IS Morocco network

Yemen army recruits 4,800 southern fighters

Israel to use agriculture to win friends in Africa

Syrian refugees desert Middle East for Europe

At least 76 die as boat sinks off Libya

UN pursues Syria chemical weapons probe

US says IS cyber jihadist killed in Syria strike

Iran premieres big-budget epic film 'Muhammad'

S.Sudan govt calls peace deal 'reward for rebellion'

Serbia, Macedonia urge EU action on migrants

South Sudan peace deal given cautious welcome

Two Iraqi generals in Anbar suicide bomb attack

IS seizes five villages from rebels in Syria's Aleppo

Syria regime, rebels agree new 48-hour truce for three towns

Shebab gunmen ambush Somali army convoy

Iraq PM plans to implement constitutional reform

Muslims not doing enough to fight IS: Queen Rania

Lebanon charges radical Islamist Al-Assir with 'terrorism'

Qaeda group blows up Yemen army HQ in Mukalla

Palestinian rivals agree ceasefire in Lebanon camp

New migrant tragedy in Mediterranean: 40 people dead, 2,000 in danger

Tehran's shoe-shine man in a red stiletto

Saudi King to meet Obama next month on first trip to US as monarch

Turkey PM invites pro-Kurdish MPs into caretaker cabinet