Thursday, December 18, 2008

Somalia Al Shabaab Guerrillas Attack Western-backed Military Bases

Somalia: Al Shabaab Insurgents Attack African Union, Ethiopia Bases

17 December 2008

At least five people were killed in Somalia's capital Mogadishu after suspected insurgents targeted separate military bases housing African Union peacekeepers and Ethiopian troops, Radio Garowe reported Wednesday.

The Islamist Al Shabaab group claimed responsibility for the attacks, including a violent attack near KM4 junction where AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) peacekeepers are based.

A nearby hotel is home to opposition members currently visiting Mogadishu, local sources reported.

Witnesses reported seeing AMISOM tanks inside some neighborhoods, including Hodan District where most of the fighting was concentrated.

At least one person was killed and six others wounded in the crossfire, the witnesses added.

Al Shabaab spokesman Muktar Robow "Abu Mansur" claimed victory during a telephone press conference with Mogadishu-based journalists.

But Major Bahoku Barigye, the AMISOM spokesman, denied any reports of casualties on the AU side, saying: "There were no losses on our side, but it is unfortunate that this attack took place after the ceasefire agreement signed in Djibouti."

An Ethiopian army contingent patrolling streets in Mogadishu's Yaaqshiid district were ambushed, igniting fierce street battles that killed at least four people.

Insurgents used machineguns and rocket launchers during the attack, which erupted moments after Ethiopian soldiers entered neighborhoods nominally considered an insurgent stronghold.

At least four fighters on both sides of the conflict were killed during the battle, but there was no confirmation of many men each side lost.

Four civilians were wounded when an artillery shell slammed into residential areas, witnesses reported.

Abu Mansur admitted to reporters that a senior Al Shabaab commander was killed during the clashes.

An anti-Ethiopia insurgency, led by Islamis rebels, has raged in many parts of Somalia over the past two years.

In November, the Somali interim government signed a ceasefire agreement and a power-sharing deal with an Islamist-led opposition faction.

But that agreement has been ignored by powerful opposition groups, including Al Shabaab which controls key central and southern regions.

Copyright © 2008 Garowe Online. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (

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