Somali government offers amnesty to Shebab rebels

Last Updated: Tuesday, August 9, 2011 - 17:37

Mogadishu: Somalia`s embattled government
offered an open amnesty on Tuesday to Islamist Shebab fighters
after the rebels made a surprise withdrawal from the
famine-struck capital over the weekend.

The al Qaeda affiliated insurgents have waged a bloody
war since 2007 to topple the Western-backed transitional
government, which they had hemmed in to a portion of
Mogadishu.

"We offer an amnesty, put down your weapons and your
guns, and come and join the people and your society," said
Abdirahman Osman, a spokesman for the transitional government.

"For those who have been misled by the senior
commanders, now is the time to end the war."

The extremist fighters, who had controlled around half
of Mogadishu, abandoned their positions on Saturday but some
units remained active within the capital.

Fighting was reported as rebel remnants clashed with
African Union-backed government troops after the pullout.

Sporadic gunfire was heard in the city today morning,
according to a correspondent.

Government officials celebrated the hardline rebel
pullout but the Shebab said it was merely "a change of
military tactics."

The 9,000-strong AU force (AMISOM) and government troops
have meanwhile reinforced their hold over former rebel
positions in an effort to allow more aid into the
famine-struck capital today.

"The extremists have been preventing the provision of
food to hungry Somalis and this has opened up the opportunity
to help many more people," said Boubacar Gaoussou Diarra, the
AU special representative to Somalia, in a statement released
late yesterday.

AMISOM however warned people intending to return to
former Shebab-controlled areas of the "high possibility" of
"roadside bombs and pockets of remaining extremist fighters,"
Diarra said.

PTI



First Published: Tuesday, August 9, 2011 - 17:37

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