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[Dehai-WN] (Reuters): Two killed in Somali rebels' mortar attack on palace

From: Berhane Habtemariam <Berhane.Habtemariam_at_gmx.de_at_dehai.org>
Date: Mon, 26 Mar 2012 22:40:00 +0200

Two killed in Somali rebels' mortar attack on palace

Mon Mar 26, 2012 3:30pm GMT

(Adds loss of key town)

MOGADISHU, March 26 (Reuters) - At least two people were killed and 8 others
wounded after mortar rounds fired by Somali rebel group al Shabaab towards
the presidential palace landed on a nearby camp for the internally
displaced, witnesses and officials said on Monday.

Under pressure from African Union and Somali government troops, the al
Qaeda-linked militants withdrew from Mogadishu in August prompting a return
to relative calm in the capital, although they still manage to launch
sporadic attacks.

Paddy Ankunda, spokesman for the African Union force known as AMISOM, said
some mortars hit a camp for Somalis displaced by war and famine about 300
metres from the presidential palace.

Ismail Nur, a resident of the camp, said one mortar killed two members of a
single family.

"A mortar landed on our camp - a father and his son died. Eight others
including three women were injured," Nur, who is a nephew to the dead
father, told Reuters.

Al Shabaab said they fired mortars at the heavily protected presidential
compound, their third attempt to strike at the heart of the government in a

The group also lost control of a strategic town in central Somalia to Ahlu
Sunna, a pro-government militia and Ethiopian troops.

They abandoned El Bur, about 90 km to the south east of Galgadud region
capital, Dusamareb. The town was stronghold of the group in central Somalia
for years.

"We are now in El Bur, the biggest al Shabaab stronghold that gave us a
headache for years. (There was) no resistance," Abdiweli Syad, Ahlu Sunna
commander for Galgadud region told Reuters on Monday.

Al Shabaab confirmed they had lost the town, saying it was a tactical
retreat and they would engage the militia and the Ethiopians in guerrilla

"Ethiopian tanks and the so-called Ahlu Sunna are now in the town, but they
will never control the town peacefully," Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, the
spokesman for al Shabaab's military operation told Reuters. (Reporting by
Abdi Sheikh and Feisal Omar; Editing by Duncan Miriri and Toby Chopra)

C Thomson Reuters 2012 All rights reserved


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