January 21, 2007 / 7:07 AM / 13 years ago

Somali Islamists say refuse govt amnesty offer

MOGADISHU (Reuters) - Somali Islamists on Tuesday said they refused a government offer for amnesty after a two week war that drove them out of their strongholds.

“We cannot accept the government offer for surrender,” Islamist spokesman Abdirahim Ali Mudey told Reuters by phone from a hideout.

“If the world thinks we are dead, they should know we are alive. We will rise out of the ashes.”

The Somali government has offered an amnesty to Islamist fighters — some of whom it says have been in touch — but insists foreign fighters who backed them will face the courts.

The Islamists fled their last stronghold in the southern port city of Kismayu on Monday in the face of Ethiopian bombardment.

Ethiopian planes, tanks and troops helped the Somali interim government drive out the Islamists from Mogadishu last week, breaking free from its provincial outpost Baidoa to end six months of Islamist rule across much of southern Somalia.

While Mudey did not claim direct Islamist responsibility for a reported ambush on Ethiopian troops on Tuesday, in which two soldiers were killed, he said attacks like this represented a change of tactics.

“The attack is what we have been promising, as a change of tactic in the fight against the Ethiopians,” he said.

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