Two Bombs Detonated at African Union Base in Somalia

11:12, 18 September 2009
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Seven people...

Seven people were killed and 17 wounded in a battle today in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, after two suicide bomb attacks at a base used by Ugandan African Union peacekeepers at the Aden Adde International Airport, health officials said, according to Bloomberg.

“We have collected the bodies of seven civilians, including women and children,” Ali Muse Sheikh, a paramedic who works for Lifeline and the Nationlink Ambulance Service, said by phone from the city today. “Up to 17 other were wounded, most of them with shrapnel wounds.” The battle broke out south of Mogadishu, where the Ugandan peacekeepers, government troops and insurgents all have bases.

“There was shelling from the Ugandan base that hit residential areas, most probably in retaliation for this morning’s attack,” Mahamoud Ahmed Saalim, a Bakara resident, said. “Three people died in our village after a shell exploded.”

The bombers, who gained access to the base using two vehicles marked with United Nations emblems, detonated the explosives in an area used by Ugandan soldiers working for the African Union Mission in Somalia, or Amisom, at around midday local time, Abdullahi Ali Nor, a senior government official in the airport, said. The airport has been cordoned off. Soldiers and civilians were killed and injured in the attack, Ali Nor said, without providing the number of casualties.

“Our holy martyrs carried out two suicide attacks in Halane,” an unidentified al-Shabaab member told Mogadishu-based Shebelle Radio. “We have achieved our goal, inflicting irretrievable losses to the mercenary Amisom soldiers.”

Condemned Attack

The AU condemned the attack, which killed “a number of peacekeepers” and wounded many others, as well as damaging facilities and equipment,” the AU’s representative for Somalia, Nicolas Bakira, said in an e-mailed statement.

Yesterday, al-Shabaab vowed revenge for a raid on Sept. 14 inside Somalia by U.S. commandos who killed al-Qaeda military operative, Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, who is wanted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The Horn of Africa country is in its 18th year of civil war and hasn’t had a functioning central administration since the ouster of Mohamed Siad Barre, the former dictator, in 1991. Islamist groups including al-Shabaab and the Hisb-ul-Islam movement have gained control of most of southern and central Somalia in their bid to oust the government.

Amisom has 3,750 peacekeepers in Somalia, 2,050 from Uganda and 1,700 from Burundi, according to its Web site. The United Nations said in May that al-Qaeda has sent as many as 300 fighters to Somalia to support Islamists and warlords seeking to topple the government. The foreigners are training members of al-Shabaab and helping them mobilize funds and weapons, Nicolas Bwakira, the head of Amisom, said on May 22.

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