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Somalia's Islamic Militia Call for Help From Foreign Muslim Fighters

23 December 2006

Somalia's Islamists have called on foreign Muslim fighters to join their fight against Ethiopia-backed Somalian government troops.

Somali Islamist defense chief Yusuf Mohamed Siad said Saturday that the country is open for Islamic fighters from around the world ready to join what he called a "holy war".

The Islamists and the Ethiopian-backed government each claim to have killed hundreds of the other side's troops during four days of fighting in southern Somalia.

The International Committee of the Red Cross says dozens of people have been killed and at least 200 wounded.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the U.N. Security Council denounced the fighting in statements Friday. They urged Somalia's interim government and Islamists to resume peace talks.

The United Nations has passed a resolution supporting the proposed force. However, Somalia's Islamists have denounced the measure and vowed to fight any foreign troops.

Islamist forces have seized much of southern and central Somalia since taking control of the capital, Mogadishu, in June.

This week's fighting has taken place near the interim government's headquarters in Baidoa. Somalia's government has little power outside the town.

Islamist leaders had threatened to attack Ethiopian troops this week if they did not leave Somali territory. Ethiopia has an undetermined number of soldiers in Somalia to assist the interim government.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

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