Somali government offers amnesty to Shebab rebels
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Last Updated: Tuesday, August 09, 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.


First Published: Tuesday, August 09, 2011, 17:37

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