As hundreds of families flee a second day of fighting in the Somali capital Mogadishu, the government there says the growing insurgency is being personally directed by an al-Qaeda militant. The refugees used whatever transport they could to escape fierce exchanges centred on the defence department, between insurgents and Ethiopian troops.
The Somali Deputy Defence Minister, Salad Ali Jelle, said al-Qaeda has appointed a head of the anti-government insurgency. He said the people of Mogadishu should stay away from where the terrorists are based, and within a short time, the Transitional Federal Government will accomplish its mission, he said, to destroy the terrorists and protect the civilians.
He named the leader as Aden Hashi Ayro, a man trained in Afghanistan, and the leader of the feared Shabab military islamist wing. He is someone the government and America have repeatedly accused of al-Qaeda links. But critics say the government often exaggerates its opponents’ terrorist credentials, in order to get more backing from Washington.