Somali insurgents soften stance on Mogadishu airport closure
Somali Islamist insurgent group al-Shabaab, which last month ordered the closure of Mogadishu's main airport, said Thursday it may allow air traffic to once again land, reported dpa.
"Our decision to close the airport is not Holy Koran verse; we can change our decision to close the airport if the people come to negotiate," Sheikh Muktar Robow told reporters in a teleconference.
Al-Shabaab last month vowed to shoot down any plane that landed after it said the airport was being used to offload military equipment for African Union peacekeepers and Ethiopian soldiers.
Some flights have nonetheless landed, prompting shelling by al- Shabaab that has killed civilians in surrounding areas.
Almost daily battles have blighted the Horn of Africa nation since Ethiopian troops invaded in 2006 to kick out the Islamist regime and put the transitional federal government back in power.
Islamist insurgents have since fought back, taking over the key port town of Kismayo and hammering Ethiopian, government and AU peacekeeping troops.
Civilians have borne the brunt of the fighting, with aid agencies now estimating almost 10,000 have died since the insurgency began in early 2007.
The Horn of Africa nation has been plagued by chaos and clan-based civil war since dictator Mohamed Siad Barre was toppled in 1991.