Last Updated: Tue Nov 02, 2010 20:29 pm (KSA) 17:29 pm (GMT)

Somali president calls for Ramadan ceasefire

Somalia’s president calls for ceasefire in Ramadan to allow people to pray
Somalia’s president calls for ceasefire in Ramadan to allow people to pray

Somalia's government has called on warring parties in the conflict-torn horn of Africa nation to stop fighting during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, a spokesman for the presidency said on Saturday.

President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, a former Islamist rebel, said the ceasefire call was motivated by the need for peace during the religiously significant month.

 The president made this call since it is necessary to not stop people going to Islamic centers, worship Allah any time without fear, and we hope the opposition will accept it without condition 
President spokesman Abdulkadir Osman

"The president made this call since it is necessary to not stop people going to Islamic centers, worship Allah any time without fear, and we hope the opposition will accept it without condition," Abdulkadir Osman told Reuters by telephone.

Opposition groups said they would discuss the ceasefire call.

The President's U.N. -backed government has been facing a stubborn insurgency from the al-Shabaab and Hizbul Islam rebels, dashing hopes of an end to 18 years of instability.

Western intelligence says the fighting and chaos is exploited by al-Qaeda linked groups, exposing the entire region.

Continued fighting

On Saturday clashes continued, as insurgents attacked a government-controlled Mogadishu checkpoint in the early hours.

"Al-Shabaab men have attacked our positions in Ex-Control Afgoye (checkpoint). We repulsed the attackers and killed more than 10 men," Abdifatah Shaweye, deputy mayor of Banadir, told Reuters by telephone

Al-Shabaab's information office denied the claim and said they took control of the base and killed nearly 10 soldiers from the government side.

On Friday government forces clashed with al-Shabaab rebels in Mogadishu killing at least 16 people as Ethiopian troops backing the government forces made a cross-border incursion, witnesses said.

The clashes in the capital's southern districts followed a day of fighting between pro-government forces and the hardline al-Shabaab group in central Somalia that left at least 21 dead.

 We had agreed to join all our forces and take orders from one command. The number of Hizbul Islam fighters joined us are in the hundreds 
Shabab Commander Bare Adan Khooje

Some 300 kilometers (185 miles) north of the capital in the town of Beledweyn, close to the Ethiopian border, residents reported seeing Ethiopian troops, supported by heavy columns of armored vehicles.

On Thursday Beledweyn was the scene of clashes between al-Shabaab fighters and government troops.

"The Ethiopian forces entered the town this afternoon; I saw many of them heavily armed taking positions inside the town," Beledweyn resident Adan Yerow Abdurahman said.

Al-Shabaab also said they had agreed to work together with Hizbul Islam fighters in the South Western region of Gedo.

"We had agreed to join all our forces and take orders from one command. The number of Hizbul Islam fighters (who) joined us are in the hundreds," Commander Bare Adan Khooje told Reuters.

About 100 people died last week in different parts of the country as pro-government militias and insurgents engaged in various battles.

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