CAIRO, Egypt Aug 8 (Garowe Online) -
The leader of Somalia's divided Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia (ARS), Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, has called on Arab states to support the ongoing peace process in the war-torn Horn of Africa country.
Sheikh Sharif and an ARS delegation spoke in Cairo, Egypt, on Thursday with officials from the Arab League and the Egyptian government about peace prospects in Somalia.
"I urge Arab countries to send soldiers [peacekeepers] to Somalia and to take part in UN efforts to withdraw Ethiopian troops [from Somalia]," Sheikh Sharif said.
Dahir Mohamud Ghelle, spokesman for the ARS wing led by Sheikh Sharif, told reporters that Arab leaders called on Somali opposition leaders to "unite as one."
He indicated that there are ongoing efforts to bring together the ARS wings, one based in Eritrea and the other based in Djibouti.
The group, established in Eritrea in 2007, divided into two rival camps after Sheikh Sharif signed a peace agreement with the Ethiopian-backed Somali interim government.
The June peace agreement, signed in Djibouti, called for the withdrawal of Ethiopian forces from Somalia after being replaced by a UN peacekeeping mission.
Meanwhile, insurgents attacked a military installation in Mogadishu Friday afternoon, sparking a gunfight that included artillery barrages hitting surrounding neighborhoods.
Separately, al Shabaab insurgents claimed responsibility yesterday for six mortars that hit the airport and the presidential compound in Baidoa, 250km northwest of Mogadishu.
One soldier confidentially told Garowe Online that government troops stationed at the Baidoa presidential compound launched shells toward the origin of the mortars.
There were no casualty reports from either incident, but thousands of Somalis have been killed in a bloody insurgency that erupted after Ethiopian troops invaded Somalia in December 2006.
Eritrea-based Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, who declared himself ARS chairman last month, has called on Somali rebels to continue the insurgency until Ethiopian troops leave the country.
Source: Garowe Online