28 February 2009

Somalia: Party of Islam Chairman Condemns Recent Attacks

The chairman of a newly formed coalition of Islamist factions in Somalia has condemned a recent wave of attacks against African Union peacekeepers (AMISOM), Radio Garowe reports.

Sheikh Omar Iman, chairman of the Party of Islam faction, admitted that "some members" of the group were responsible for attacks on Feb. 24 and Feb. 25 that killed nearly 50 people and wounded more than 300 others, mostly civilians.

"The fighting was not agreed upon [by all members] but was initiated by some members [of the Party of Islam]," said Sheikh Iman, a highly educated politician who has written books about Islam.

He was appointed as chairman of the Party of Islam last month, bringing four Islamist factions under his command: Islamic Courts-Asmara faction; Mu'askar Ras Kamboni; Jabhatul Islamiya; and Anole.

The group immediately condemned the new government of Somali President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, formerly the moderate leader of the Islamic Courts movement that came to power in Somalia in 2006.

"We have been busy establishing our organization [Party of Islam] when the fighting happened...we do not like to bring upon our people mass exodus and killings," the group's chairman said at a Saturday press conference.

He rejected Yusuf Indha Ade's assertion that Indha Ade was the Party of Islam's defense secretary. Indha Ade, a notorious ex-warlord, also condemned the recent bout of fighting that raged in Mogadishu for two consecutive days.

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