Somalia's Council of Islamic Courts holds demonstration against Ethiopian intervention. There have been fierce clashes with Ethiopian forces over the last several days.
Originally uploaded by Pan-African News Wire Photo File
Somali Islamic leader vows to fight to death
Compiled by Daily Star staff
The leader of an ousted Islamic group that has launched a bloody insurgency to topple the Somali government said his fighters are ready to fight to the death as at least six more civilians died in the capital on Tuesday.
Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, whose Council of Islamic Courts ruled much of southern Somalia for six months last year, accused Ethiopian forces supporting the Somali government of indiscriminate killings.
"They kill people remorselessly and the world does not speak of it. They only accuse the insurgents, whose only target is the enemy," Aweys told the Somali-language service of Voice of America radio Monday night.
Aweys, who spoke by satellite telephone from an undisclosed location, said "surrender to the enemy" would be shameful and his forces are willing to fight to the death. He and other Islamic leaders were forced into hiding when they were driven from power in December by Somali and Ethiopian troops.
Both sides of the conflict have been accused of killing civilians, and thousands of people have been killed this year. Aweys is on a US list of people with suspected ties to Al-Qaeda, though he has repeatedly denied having ties to international terrorists.
Mogadishu has been the scene of near daily grenade attacks and roadside bombs. At least six people were killed overnight when insurgents launched attacks on government bases, police and witnesses said on Tuesday.
Two civilians were killed and one wounded on Tuesday in the capital's Bakara market where Somali policemen tackled insurgents, forcing traders to flee, an AFP correspondent witnessed.
Insurgents also shot dead two civilians in Baruwa district that has been a theatre of fighting in the recent weeks, residents said.
Elsewhere, two other civilians were killed by stray gunfire and two wounded.
Elders had warned of renewed clashes and urged civilians to flee high-risk areas.
"No one can live in this situation," said Mohammad Hashi, a Shirkole elder told AFP.
"We expect insurgents to strike that is why we are asking civilians to leave areas where government forces and insurgents are based."