Somalia to launch attacks soon on al-Qaida
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Last Updated: Thursday, January 13, 2011, 14:27
United Nations: Somalia's new prime minister has said that 8,000 government troops will start waging attacks on Islamist insurgents and al-Qaida terrorists "very, very soon."

Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, a Somali-American educator, also said in an interview with The Associated Press yesterday that increased US and international support for his government is essential to end Somalia's lawlessness and prevent terrorists from continuing to use the country as a safe haven.

He also warned that nearly 2.5 million Somalis in both Islamist and government-controlled areas are on the verge of starvation and said some have already died.

He urged immediate global help to prevent even more deaths than in the 1992 famine when 500,000 people died, saying the United Nations and other donors weren't doing enough.

The United Nations said in early December that despite fragile improvement in 2010 because of two good rainy seasons, Somalia still had 2 million people in crisis, including nearly 1.5 million displaced people.

It said floods, drought and armed conflict disrupt access to health care, food, clean water and education but nearly 2 million people in Somalia received food assistance during 2010.

Somalia has not had an effective government since 1991 when warlords overthrew longtime dictator Mohamed Siad Barre and then turned on each other, plunging the country into chaos and anarchy.

The weak UN- and US-backed transitional government, established in 2004, and a poorly resourced African Union peacekeeping force control only a small slice of Mogadishu and haven't been able to push past the firing lines of Islamist insurgents who are set up only a few blocks from the presidential palace.

Since his 18-member Cabinet of Somali technocrats who had been living abroad was approved in late November, Mohamed said he spoken on the radio to let people know his government is honest and professional and will be transparent and accountable unlike its predecessors. He also pledged to fight corruption and promote national reconciliation.

"It looks like now we are winning the propaganda war," the prime minister said. "People are believing ... that we're really serious and came back home to affect change."

Bureau Report

First Published: Thursday, January 13, 2011, 14:27

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