An Islamic leader threatened a holy war if the African Union sends peacekeepers to Somalia in an attempt to install a government currently in exile in neighboring Kenya.
Sheik Hassan Dahir Aweys, a former Somali army colonel listed as a suspected terrorist by the United States, told reporters Friday that allowing foreign troops into Somalia was contrary to Islamic teachings. He said it would be the religious duty of all Somalis to fight any peacekeeping force.
Clan fighters might find God's forgiveness for helping plunge Somalia into chaos if they cleansed "themselves with the blood of the foreign invaders," Aweys said.
Somalia's new government, which so far has been unable to return home because of security concerns, has asked the African Union to send a peacekeeping force to secure the capital, Mogadishu. The government has repeatedly delayed its return.
Regional leader have pledged to send 6,800 troops to back up the new government, which is made up of warlords and clan leaders. But Islamic fundamentalists, who make up a very small percentage of Somalia society, refused to participate in the peace process.
OSMAN HASSAN Associated Press