Islamist leaders in Mogadishu agree to talks with government

WORLD DIGEST

June 08, 2006|By LOS ANGELES TIMES

MOGADISHU, Somalia -- Islamist leaders in control of the city reportedly agreed to talks with the country's transitional government yesterday, a move some analysts said could provide the first hope of stability after 15 years of anarchy.

But the streets of the capital bristled with tense, heavily armed militias on edge over any attempt at a counteroffensive by an alliance of rival warlords reportedly backed by the United States.

The Bush administration has not admitted backing the alliance of warlords against the Islamists, though an analyst with the International Crisis Group, John Prendergast, said CIA backing for the warlords to the extent of $100,000 to $150,000 a month was "crystal clear."

The Islamic Court Union (ICU) claimed control of Mogadishu on Monday, driving the Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counter-terrorism from the capital after months of fighting that killed hundreds of civilians.

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