MOGADISHU, (Reuters – Somalia’s neighbours should send troops to help its embattled government within the next 24 hours, parliament speaker Sheikh Aden Mohamed Madobe said on Saturday.
Two legislators have been killed in the last two days in intensified fighting between government forces and hardline Islamists trying to oust the Horn of Africa nation’s leadership.
Al Shaabab insurgents stepped up an offensive against Somalia’s government last month and on Thursday killed the country’s security minister and at least 30 other people in a suicide car bomb attack.
They also killed an MP in northern Mogadishu on Friday. “We are asking the world and neighbouring countries to intervene in Somalia’s situation immediately,” Madobe told a parliament meeting urgently convened as the opposition fighters advanced toward the presidential palace.
“We want them to come here within 24 hours,” he said. “We’ve been forced to make this request because of the escalating violence. Those fighting the government are being led by a (former) Pakistani army general, they are burning the flag and killing people,” Madobe said.
Kenya said on Friday that it will not sit by and allow the situation in its neighbour to deteriorate further because it would destabilise the rest of the region.
Kenya and other countries in the region as well as Western nations fear that if the chaos continues in Somalia, groups with links to Al Qaeda will become entrenched and threaten the stability of neighbouring countries.
Kenya said on Friday that the African Union was committed to beefing up its 4,300-strong peacekeeping mission in Somalia and helping to build a police force. But an al Shaabab spokesman warned Kenya against any intervention.
“Kenya had been saying that it will attack the mujahideen of al Shaabab for the last four months. If it tries to, we will attack Kenya and destroy the tall buildings of Nairobi,” Sheik Hasan Yacqub told reporters in the southern port city of Kismayu.
Fighting in Mogadishu since May 7, in which about 300 people have been killed, is the worst for years and the chances of a negotiated peace are waning, analysts say.
In 2006, Ethiopian sent troops to Somalia to defend the government against Islamists. They withdrew earlier this year but local media has reported that villagers have seen them back on Somalia soil.