Somali militants celebrate joining al Qaeda

An armed member of the militant group al-Shabab attends a rally on the outskirts of Mogadishu, Somalia Monday, Feb. 13, 2012. AP Photo

MOGADISHU, Somalia - Hundreds of Somalis are gathering at a militant-organized demonstration on the outskirts of Mogadishu in support of the merger of the Somali militant group al-Shabab with al Qaeda.

Al-Shabab spokesman Ali Mohamud Rage told those gathered at Monday's rally that al-Shabab is happy with its unification with al Qaeda, a merger announced last week by al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri.

Several hundred people gathered at the rally, including veiled women and armed, masked men.

Rage also said that an upcoming international conference in London on Somalia is being organized to "colonize" Somalia.

Somalia has not had a fully functioning government in more than 20 years, but African militaries from Uganda, Burundi, Ethiopia and Kenya are pressuring al-Shabab from three sides.

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