26 Jun 2009

US sent weapons to Somali government

9:04 am on 26 June 2009

The United States has confirmed it sent weapons to Somalia's government to help fight Islamist insurgents.

Somalia's al Shabaab insurgents are seen as a proxy for al Qaeda. Osama bin Laden declared President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed an enemy in an audiotape released in March and called on the insurgents to topple the Somali government.

The al Shabaab group stepped up attacks in early May. It now controls most of south Somalia and all but a few blocks of the capital Mogadishu.

The US State Department says the shipment went ahead after the United Nations Security Council agreed to grant an exemption to its arms embargo against Somalia.

A Security Council resolution in May urged member states to train and equip government security forces as long as a UN embargo monitoring committee had no objections.