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02 May 2008 11:22
Somali Islamist militants on Friday promised to avenge the killing of a man said to be an al-Qaeda’s chief, warning citizens from countries they considered hostile to stay away from the war-torn country.
The United States military on Thursday killed Moalim Aden Hashi Ayro and 11 others when it bombed a house in Somalia’s central town of Dhusamareb.
“We call on governments that support Ethiopia and America to keep their citizens out of Somalia,” said Sheikh Mukhtar Robow, the spokesperson for al-Shabaab, the armed wing of Somali Islamists.
“We vow that we are going to avenge the death of Ayro,” he added.
The US gave Ethiopia tacit support to rout the Islamist movement, which controlled much of south and central Somalia, early last year.
“I assure you that with the death of Ayro, we will re-double the holy war against the infidels,” Robow said.
“Therefore we call on all fighters to increase their attacks on the puppets [Somali government] and Ethiopian troops.
“It is not the first time Americans kill Islamic leaders in their homelands. This is not something new in the field of Islamic war against the infidels,” he added.
Ayro was the commander of the al-Shabaab, listed by the US government as a terrorist group.
Their leaders are believed to have trained and fought with Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda network in Afghanistan.
Ayro, in his early 30s, undertook insurgency training in Afghanistan in the 1990s and ran a secret militia training centre in Somalia.
The Somali government and Western intelligence said he was the head of al-Qaeda in the country.
Since the Islamists were ousted from Mogadishu in early 2007, they have carried out attacks against government officials, Ethiopian forces backing the Somali government and African Union peacekeepers.
Western intelligence warns that raging lawlessness in Somalia has created room for Islamists and other groups linked to al-Qaeda to operate.—AFP
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