11 Killed in Attack on Peacekeepers in Somalia

By: Mohamed Olad Hassan AP
By: Mohamed Olad Hassan AP

MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) - An attack on an African Union
peacekeeping base in the Somali capital Sunday killed 11 people,
the AU said, but it denied insurgent claims of a suicide attack.

El Ghassim Wane, a spokesman for the AU in Addis Ababa, said the
insurgents had fired mortars onto the base in Mogadishu. He gave no
further details.

But Sheik Muktar Robow, a spokesman for the al-Shabab insurgent
group, insisted that "Our fighters have carried out two suicide
attacks on the infidels in Mogadishu, inflicting heavy losses."

The AU peacekeeping force in Mogadishu has had a restricted
mandate to guard key government installations in the two years it
has been here. It has not been involved in fighting Islamic
militants in the capital, battles that have killed thousands of
civilians over the past two years. But hardline groups still view
the peacekeepers as an occupying force.

Al-Shabab, an extremist Islamic group, has threatened to focus
its attacks on AU troops now that Ethiopian troops have left
Mogadishu after a two-year deployment.

Also Sunday, gunmen kidnapped a Pakistani in northern Somalia,
said Muse Gelle, governor of the Bari region in Somalia's
semiautonomous Puntland region. The man was traveling to a farming
project where he was working, Gelle said.

Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesman Abdul Basit said he was
unaware that any Pakistani national had been kidnapped in Somalia.
The man's name and employer were not immediately known. The area
of the Horn of Africa nation is notorious for kidnappings and
piracy.

Pirates also seized a Greek-owned cargo ship Sunday with a
22-member crew off Somalia's coast.

Somalia has not had a functioning government since 1991.

The U.S. State Department considers al-Shabab a terrorist
organization linked to al-Qaida, something the group has denied.

Somalia's government controls virtually no territory in this
unstable nation.

Former soldier, rebel and warlord Abdullahi Yusuf resigned as
president in December after failing to pacify the country during
his four years in office.

A moderate Islamist leader, Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed, was
elected by parliament and observers hope he will bring many of
Somalia's Islamic factions into a more inclusive government.

Ahmed was chairman of the Islamic Courts Union that ran
Mogadishu for six months in 2006 before Ethiopian soldiers drove
them from power.

Associated Press writer Anita Powell contributed to this report
from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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