More than 100 die in Somalia clashes

Islamist militants from the Hizb-al-Islamiya take positions at Wardhiglay Police station in Mogadishu on May 10, 2009
Clashes between Somalia’s transitional government and the Al-Shabab militia left 103 people dead and 420 others wounded, Somali officials said Friday.

The fighting in Mogadishu between the rebel group and the government has raged for nine days, said Farhan Ali Mohamud, information minister of the Somali government. The new round of fighting stems from an interpretation of sharia law, or Islamic law, the spokesman said. Somalia’s new President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed has recently approved implementing sharia law, but the rebel group wants the country to institute a stricter form. A spokesman for the rebel group said it has recruited many fighters for the battle against the government. “It is not only Somali jihadists that are fighting in Mogadishu against the government. There are also foreign Muslim jihadist brothers who are fighting side by side with us,” said Sheikh Hassan Ya’qub, a spokesman for Alshabab. The U.S. Embassy in Kenya released a statement about the fierce fighting. “The extremists who are instigating these attacks have no regard for the well-being of Somalis, and are undermining the peaceful efforts of the legitimate government to further national reconciliation,” the statement said. “The United States is particularly disturbed at reports that foreign fighters and those who rejected dialogue in 2006 are participating in this effort to forcibly remove a legitimate Somali government from power.”