Somali militants announce merger, threaten attacks

December 24, 2010 03:13

MOGADISHU, Somalia — Somalia's top two insurgent groups announced Thursday that they plan to merge, a development that could see the country's insurgency gain strength.

Militants from al-Shabab and Hizbul Islam held a joint news conference at a mosque in Mogadishu at which they threatened attacks against the African Union peacekeeping force in Somalia's capital and the countries of Uganda and Burundi.

The merger will help the group increase its attacks against what Hizbul Islam official Sheik Abdifitah Ali called African mercenaries, a reference to the 8,000-strong African Union force. The AU force helps protect the small slice of land controlled by the UN and the US-backed Somali government.

"We have agreed to unite together and fight the foreign troops that back the apostate government," Abdifitah said.

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