MOGADISHU, April 17 (Reuters) - A suicide bomber killed at least one soldier
in Baidoa, a former rebel stronghold captured by Somali and Ethiopian
soldiers during an offensive in February, a government official said.
The al Qaeda-backed militants were forced to surrender the strategic city
after columns of Ethiopian troops backed by tanks rolled through their bases
in Baidoa, since when the militants have resorted to guerilla strikes.
Earlier this month, 100 Ugandan troops from the African Union's AMISOM force
in Somalia went to Baidoa, the first AMISOM deployment outside the capital
Mogadishu. A total of 2,500 are due to go to Baidoa, so Ethiopian soldiers
there can withdraw from Somalia.
"One of our anti-terrorist forces died and others were injured after a
suicide bomber stormed a cafe in front of the United Nations compound,"
Abdifatah Mohamed Ibrahim, governor for the Bay region in the anarchic
country, told Reuters.
"Our anti-terrorist soldier went towards the man for (screening) and
immediately he blew himself up," he said.
Al Qaeda-linked rebel group al Shabaab claimed responsibility for the
attack, but said its bomber killed five Somali government soldiers and three
The militants tend to exaggerate the number of casualties in their strikes,
just as the government sometimes downplays the number of victims following
"A mujahid suicide bomber blew up himself in a government station in Baidoa.
We killed five government security forces and three Ethiopian troops,"
Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, the spokesman for al Shabaab's military
operation, told Reuters.
"We fulfilled the target. He had an explosive jacket. The place is opposite
the United Nation's office," he said.
A bomb planted in a market in Baidoa killed at least 12 people last week.
After capturing the town, Ethiopian soldiers set up bases at the former
government headquarters and at the city's airstrip, as well as checkpoints
on the road leading southeast to the capital Mogadishu on the Indian Ocean
Addis Ababa sent troops across the border into Somalia in November to open
up another front against the militants after Kenyan troops moved on rebel
strongholds in southern Somalia in pursuit of the insurgents it accused of
A weakened al Shabaab had already suffering financial constraints and
internal divisions, but still has a stronghold in the port city of Kismayu,
its main outpost, which provides money out of port earnings for the militant
group. (Reporting by Feisal Omar, Mohamed Ahmed and Abdi Sheikh; Writing by
James Macharia; Editing by Louise Ireland and David Clarke)
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Received on Wed Apr 18 2012 - 10:31:02 EDT