Sunday, February 22, 2009

Two Dead in Attacks on AMISOM Base in Mogadishu

Two Dead in Attacks on AMISOM Base in Mogadishu

22/02/2009 12:46 MOGADISHU, Feb 22 (AFP)

Two dead in attack on African Union base in Somali capital
At least two civilians were killed Sunday in an attack by Islamist rebels on a base housing Burundian African Union troops in the Somali capital, witnesses said.

But an AU spokesman confirmed there had been an mortar, denying claims by Islamist rebels and some witnesses that the explosion had been the result of a suicide bombing,

"Two civilians died near my house when a mortar hit them. Other rounds ... also hit the Burundian camp," one witness, Hussein Jama, told AFP.

Bahuko Bridgye, AU spokesman in Mogadishu confirmed that the base had been hit by mortar but said his forces had suffered no casualties.

And he denied earlier reports from witnesses who suggested the explosion, in the south of the capital at the old National University, had come from a suicide car bomber.

But Sheik Muktar Robow Abu Mansur, spokesman of the hard-line Shabab Islamist rebels said the explosion had been the result of a suicide attack.

"Holy fighters carried out suicide attacks ... in the national university."

The attacks had been carried out by two suicide bombers, he added.

Earlier Sunday, one witness, Ali Mohamed, told AFP: "I saw a car entering the Burundian camp in the former Somali National University. Minutes later, there was a huge explosion."

With the withdrawal in early January of pro-government Ethiopian troops from Somalia, the AU troops are the only foreign force left in Mogadishu.

Earlier this month, the Shebab called on its fighters to intensify their holy war against AU peacekeepers.

Shebab spent two years battling the Ethiopian forces who invaded Somalia in late 2006 but completed a pullout last month.

The Al Qaeda-linked organisation has since pledged repeatedly to continue its armed struggle against AU peacekeepers, whom they regularly describe as invaders and crusaders.

The 3,400-strong AU mission in Somalia, deployed in March 2007 and made up of Burundian and Ugandan troops, never managed to draw the 8,000 troops initially envisaged.

As well as being under-strength, the mission's effectiveness has been hampered by under-funding and lack of equipment.

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