The Union of Islamic Courts (UIC), which currently controls the Somali capital of Mogadishu, has announced new guidelines on travel to the city, saying it wants to boost traveler safety.
"The guidelines are to make sure that we provide the necessary protection to any visitor," Shaykh Abdulkadir Ali, the vice-chairman of the UIC executive council, said on Sunday. "We want to make sure that what happened with the Swedish journalist does not happen again."
Unidentified gunmen shot and killed a Swedish cameraman, Martin Adler, on 23 June as he covered a demonstration in Mogadishu.
The guidelines, announced by the chairman of the UIC executive council, Shaykh Sharif Shaykh Ahmed, require "anyone who wants to visit" to write a letter to the UIC, indicating the objective of the trip and the length of stay, according to a source in the chairman's office. "An office has been set up that will deal with this issue," the source said.
The guidelines apply to both foreigners and "members of the TFG [Transitional Federal Government] in Baidao who want to come to Mogadishu," the source added. "If they are coming with good intentions they are welcome but we cannot allow those who are bent on undermining the work of the courts and the security situation."
Another source told IRIN that the UIC was worried that those opposed to the group had taken advantage of "the confused situation in the city and are trying to undermine their efforts to bring back law and order".
The courts are also tightening their grip on the city. Umar Mahamud Finish, one of the faction leaders who was a member of the Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counter Terrorism, which was defeated by the UIC, officially surrendered his weapons on Sunday to the UIC.
"He handed over all the weapons to the UIC at a ceremony in the north of the city," an eye witness said.
However, another faction leader, Abdi Hassan Awale Qeybdid, whose militia the UIC removed last week from two checkpoints on the outskirts of the city, has so far refused to relinquish his weapons to the UIC, "creating a climate of fear and uncertainty in the area," the source added.
(NAIROBI, 3 July (IRIN) - Reuters News Alert)
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