Members of a group listed by the US as a terrorist band are now running the capital of neighboring Somalia, days after Islamic fighters wrested control of the city from warlords, Ethiopia's Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said.
"The renowned extremist and terrorist organization, al-Ittihad, is at the helm of the current leadership in Mogadishu," Meles told lawmakers Tuesday during a review of the situation in Ethiopia relations with neighboring countries. "We do not believe that all the forces that have taken control of Mogadishu and its surroundings are extremists."
Al-Ittihad is listed by the United States as a terrorist group linked to al-Qaida. Washington has accused the group of harboring al-Qaida leaders responsible for deadly 1998 bombings at the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
United Nations officials say Al-Ittihad operates openly as a religious organization and is a powerful economic force in southern Somalia, where it captured key towns from warlords in June.