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Last Updated: Sunday, 2 July 2006, 15:45 GMT 16:45 UK
Somalis wary of 'Bin Laden' tape
Osama Bin Laden (file image)
Bin Laden was giving an opinion, the Somali leader said
The powerful Islamist movement in Somalia has distanced itself from comments about Somalia attributed to al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

An internet audio recording warned the West not to send troops to Somalia.

But a leader of the Union of Islamic Courts, which has taken control of the capital, Mogadishu, said they did not rely on any outside group.

The US has accused one Islamic leader, Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, of links to al-Qaeda and involvement with terror.

Mr Aweys denies the US allegations, saying the case against him was built by enemies from within Ethiopia.

Speaking to reporters in Mogadishu, Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, also a figurehead of the Islamic Courts, said Bin Laden was expressing his personal opinion in the audio recording, which has not been verified.

Somalia's Islamists have regularly denied harbouring al-Qaeda fighters in their ranks.

'Opportunity'

As well as warning against the introduction of Western troops, the speaker on the audio recording released on Saturday also called on all Somalis to back attempts to build an Islamic state.

Since Islamic Courts militias banished secular warlords from Mogadishu last month, Somalia is suddenly of much greater interest to al-Qaeda and Bin Laden, BBC Africa analyst David Bamford notes.

But Mogadishu's new rulers have been at pains to convince Washington and regional African governments that they pose no threat, despite their Islamic leanings, and want to bring stability to Somalia, our correspondent adds.

Diplomats have suggested there is a new window of opportunity to secure peace in Somalia, after 15 years without a functioning central government.

The interim government, based in the city of Baidoa, has called for international peacekeepers to be sent to the country.


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