[Dehai-WN] English.aljazeera.ne: Al-Shabab claims peacekeepers' killings

[Dehai-WN] English.aljazeera.ne: Al-Shabab claims peacekeepers' killings

From: Berhane Habtemariam <Berhane.Habtemariam_at_gmx.de_at_dehai.org>
Date: Mon, 24 Oct 2011 14:47:56 +0200

Al-Shabab claims peacekeepers' killings

Somali anti-government fighters display what they say are bodies of more
than 70 Burundian soldiers killed in battle.

Last Modified: 24 Oct 2011 20:22


Somalia's al-Shabab fighters have put on display the dead bodies of more
than 70 African Union peacekeepers they say they killed in the country's
capital, Mogadishu.

The troops, reportedly Burundian soldiers, were killed on Thursday following
a battle with al-Shabab, according to Abu Omar, a commander of the
anti-government Islamist group.

"We can confirm that more than 150 Burundian soldiers were killed in the
battle. We can confirm to you that 76 of the bodies are currently in our
custody and the battle lasted for about six hours," he told Al Jazeera.

Displaying the bodies in the dust to reporters, Sheikh Ali Mohamud Rage, an
al-Shabab spokesman, said: "We have killed more than 70 of the enemy
soldiers today ... We have inflicted heavy losses on them and you can see
their dead bodies."

The bodies were put on display in the al-Shabab-controlled El-Maan area,
18km from Mogadishu.

Witnesses say the bodies were not Somalis and most were dressed in military

"I have seen the largest number of soldiers killed in a battle, I have
counted 63 Burundian soldiers, all of them dead, the Shabab brought them on
trucks to Alamada," Hasan Yunus, a witness, said.

"Some of the dead bodies were dragged along by angry residents."

Photographs showed long lines of at least 20 bodies dressed in military
uniform laid out in the sand, surrounded by a large crowd with their faces

'Fell into an ambush'

Al-Shabab's Omar told Al Jazeera that the battle started when "the Burundian
crusaders supported by some of the militia from the regime attacked an area
in Dayniile which also has a large population of innocent civilians".

"First the Burundian troops began by indiscriminately shelling the area with
mortars and rockets whereby dozens of innocent civilians lost their lives as
a result and hundreds more were injured. Shortly after the shelling had
stopped, the Burundian troops began to move towards the district of

"We were informed of their preparations and movements by our reconnaissance
teams, so the mujahideen [al-Shabab] was laying in wait for them. And when
they advanced, along with their tanks and armoured personnel carriers, they
fell into an ambush and that's where the battle began," he added.

Heavy fighting was reported in the northwest Dayniile district throughout
Thursday, but Somali government officials had earlier said they were moving
alongside AU troops "towards the final strongholds of the terrorist

Battles began before dawn in Mogadishu as AU-backed Somali forces advanced
on holdout al-Shabab positions, officials and witnesses said.

African Union Mission for Somalia (AMISOM) troops and government forces have
been pushing into remaining al-Shabab areas in Mogadishu, after the bulk of
the fighters abandoned their fixed positions in August.

Burundian troops with the 9,000 strong AMISOM force control the sector
closest to the fighting and are believed to have led the assault. Ugandan
soldiers make up the bulk of the AU force and control other sections of

Despite their pullout from much from the capital, al-Shabab has not wavered
from its aim to topple the government. The fighters still control large
swathes of southern and central Somalia, and remain a serious security

Meanwhile, al-Shabab fighters in southern Somalia are also facing assaults
from Kenyan troops and tanks backed by air strikes since Kenya declared war
on the group and confirmed it had moved its forces into Somalia on Sunday.


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