Somali Islamists claim deadly attack on medics

Aerial view of the Port of MOGADISHU. Three ca...
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MOGADISHU, SOMALIA Jan 26 2010 11:34

Somalia‘s hard-line insurgent group, al-Shabaab, on Tuesday claimed responsibility for a mortar attack on an African Union peacekeepers’ base in Mogadishu that left several people dead.

On Monday, a mortar round crashed into a group of Somali civilians queuing up at one of the entrances of the AU’s peacekeeping mission (Amisom) to receive medical treatment from the force’s doctors.

“The attack on the compound of the African infidels was carried out by our mujahedins [holy warriors]. It was a successful attack that left many of the enemy doctors dead,” al-Shabaab spokesperson Sheikh Ali Mohamoud Rage said.

Officials on the base said at least one Ugandan peacekeeper was killed in the blast. They added that several Somali civilians may have died but could not provide an accurate count.

A civilian source on the base said a total of five people were killed.

Al-Shabaab — an organisation whose leader recently proclaimed allegiance to al-Qaeda supremo Osama bin Laden — and its allies from the more political Hezb al-Islam movement routinely fire mortar shells on the base.

They launched a fierce military offensive in May 2009 aimed at toppling internationally backed President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, whose embattled administration has owed its survival largely to the protection of Amisom’s 5 300 peacekeepers.

Al-Shabaab accuses Amisom’s Ugandan and Burundian soldiers of occupying its country and being engaged in a Christian crusade against Muslim Somalia.

Earlier on Monday, the AU mission’s top civilian official and the UN special envoy to Somalia visited the base and reiterated their full support to Sharif’s transitional federal government.

The Ugandan soldier killed on Monday and a Burundian peacekeeper killed several days earlier were evacuated by plane on Tuesday, according to an Agence France-Presse reporter at the Amisom base. – AFP

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