Somali government forces and their Ethiopian allies fought Islamist insurgents in Mogadishu for a second day on Friday. A government official said the Islamist rebels had joined forces with thousands of foreign jihadists. At least 19 people have been killed by violence in the past 24 hours, including a mortar strike on the capital's busy Bakara Market that left mutilated bodies piled in pools of blood. Many Somalis say the insurgents -- remnants of a hardline sharia court groups chased out of the city a year ago -- have become increasingly confident in recent months while an interim government has been hobbled by infighting. "Foreign Islamist elements from Afghanistan, Chechnya and some Arab nations have arrived (in October and November). There are around 4,500 foreign terrorists in the country," said Sheikh Qasim Ibrahim Nur, a director at the Security Ministry. "Eighty percent of the country is at risk, and I can say terrorist activities in Somalia are at their maximum level."
Monday, December 17, 2007