Hunted warlord spits defiance

MOGADISHU - A defiant Gen Aideed accused the United Nations yesterday of seeking to colonise Somalia and said he was confident that the Somali people would protect him from UN peace-keeping troops seeking to hunt him down, writes Karl Maier.

Gen Aideed, in an interview with the Voice of America, also called for an independent inquiry into the 5 June massacre of Pakistani troops, and charged that the UN forces had killed innocent civilians in retaliation. He said he was protected by the Somali legal system and vowed to stay in Mogadishu.

'I will stay in Mogadishu with my people to live with them in and to share with them the difficulties they are facing,' he said. 'I hope we will succeed in reversing any colonialistic action.'

The interview, with VOA correspondent Yusuf Hassan, was said to have taken place in a private home, and Gen Aideed himself appeared relaxed in a suit and tie. It was the first interview since Gen Aideed went into hiding last Thursday after US AC-130 gunships bombed his headquarters. UN spokesmen have said their forces are still searching for Gen Aideed, who is believed to hiding in the central market area of Bakaraha.