State out to clean up Mogadishu

MOGADISHU - Stung by a surge of guerrilla-style attacks, the Somali interim government yesterday announced plans to forcefully disarm civilians in the capital as it struggles to expand its tenuous control across the war-shattered country.

MOGADISHU - Stung by a surge of guerrilla-style attacks, the Somali interim government yesterday announced plans to forcefully disarm civilians in the capital as it struggles to expand its tenuous control across the war-shattered country.

Deputy Defence Minister Salad Ali Jelle vowed to crackdown on armed civilians as African Union (AU) peacekeepers prepared to start stabilising one of the most dangerous and gun-infested cities in the world.

Jelle said the government was training about 45000 troops to help the peacekeepers.

"Armed forces will be in every street in Mogadishu and trouble- makers will have two choices: either support the government or flee the country. It will take about 30 days to make the city peaceful," he said.

"We are urging people to surrender weapons as soon as the armed forces arrive in Mogadishu. There is no way bandits can stay operational here."

The Somali capital has been a theatre of pitched artillery battles since January. This was after joint Ethiopia-Somali forces ousted an Islamist movement from the country's southern and central regions.

Dozens of civilians have been killed in recent weeks as a vortex of deadly violence has engulfed the capital where AU peacekeepers from Uganda arrived last week.

Similar attempts to forcefully disarm civilians in January, with help from Ethiopian troops, resulted in an explosion of violence that threatened to plunge Mogadishu into a fresh bout of blood-letting. - Sapa-AFP

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