Demonstration
 
In the Somali capital, about 800 residents took to the streets after Friday prayers to protest against peacekeepers. Flags of the United States, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria and Malawi were burned amid chants of "God is Great".

 

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"Somali will not be stabalize as long as Ethiopian troops stay inside the country. Somali people will fight against invaders until they leave their soil."

Janaq Abdi, Nashville, US

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"The burnt flags are a message for you before you arrive," one masked protester said. "You still have an opportunity to avoid coming. You will face explosions and death."

   

Such threats underlined the fears in many African capitals that a peacekeeping force could become a target for Muslim hardliners in a nation in chaos and anarchy since the 1991 ouster of a dictator.

 

Washington, which has acknowledged two air strikes in south Somalia in recent weeks targeting al-Qaeda suspects, is strongly backing the idea of an African force in a country it fears could be a haven for terrorists.

   

"We need to, like a laser, focus on supporting the sovereign transitional federal government and the Somali people," Jendayi Frazer, the US assistant secretary of state for African affairs, said.

 

Frazer expressed concern at the spate of guerrilla-style mortar attacks against Somali government and Ethiopian military positions in Mogadishu in recent weeks.

   

The government has blamed the attacks on remnants of the ousted Islamic courts, some of whom have vowed a holy war.