Al-Shabab, local elders talk to pacify Mogadishu

MOGADISHU (Xinhua) – Talks aimed at pacifying the Somali capital Mogadishu is under way between leaders of Al-Shabaab Islamist movement, an insurgent group, and elders of the revered Hawiye clan, local media reports said Sunday.

The talks between the two sides comes after the elders this week managed to persuade the Al-Shabaab group to rescind their threat to shoot down planes using the airport in Mogadishu which they said is being used for military purposes.

“We are talking brotherly for the sake of our people and the leaders of the Al-Shabaab will take our advice as they listened tous before,” Ahmed Diriye, spokesman for the Council of Hawiye clanelders, told reporters in Mogadishu.

Diriye, who last week said he received death threats from members of the group, was hopeful that a deal could be reached regarding the security of the capital particularly in the few residential areas remaining in the city.

Spokesman for Al-Shabaab, Sheik Muqtar Robow Abu Masur, distanced his group from the death threats against the Hawiye elder, saying Diriye is “the grandfather of all resistant fighters” and can never be threatened.

Bridgye Ba-Houko, spokesman for AU peacekeeping force in Somalia, told Xinhua that he welcomes the efforts by clan leaders to bring peace to the city.

The Al-Shabaab group, listed by the U.S. as one of the foreign terror organizations, has been accused of operating from populated areas in their attacks against African Union peacekeepers and Ethiopian Woyanne troops backing Somali government forces, who in turn respond with heavier artillery shells that causes many of the civilian causalities.

Nearly a hundred and fifty civilians have been killed and more than three hundred others wounded as a result of heavy shelling between AU forces guarding the airport and the Al-Shabaab which attacked the airport with mortar shells every time a plane landed since Sept. 16.