From: Berhane Habtemariam (Berhane.Habtemariam@gmx.de)
Date: Fri Feb 20 2009 - 11:18:46 EST
AU troops attacked in Mogadishu
Friday, February 20, 2009
African Union (AU) peacekeepers have come under attack in the Somali
capital, resulting in the death of one civilian.
The attack on Burundian troops based in southern Mogadishu triggered a gun
battle on Friday, officials said.
"Shabab fighters attacked our forces based in southern Mogadishu's Jale Siad
military academy. There is no casualty on our side," a Burundian officer
Abdullahi Sugow, a local resident who witnessed the gun battle, said: "One
civilian was killed and two others were injured in our neighbourhood during
Al-Shabab and allied groups control much of southern and central Somalia and
want to impose their version of Islamic law in the country.
The AU currently has about 3,200 soldiers from Uganda and Burundi deployed
in Somalia, where two years of fighting have killed more than 16,000
civilians and driven a million from their homes.
Al-Shabab and other anti-government groups have regularly launched attacks
on the troops, aiming to drive the peacekeepers out of the country.
Nicolas Bwakira, the AU's special representative for Somalia, said earlier
this month that the forces needed to be reinforced fast.
The Nigerian military has long vowed to send a battalion of 850 officers and
soldiers, but the deployment has been repeatedly delayed.
Nigeria's defence minister said on Friday that Nigeria is still assessing
when to send the troops.
"When Nigeria committed herself to sending troops in 2006 or thereabout, it
was for peacekeeping, because the situation then could be handled," Shettima
told the Vanguard newspaper.
"But over the years, the situation has changed ... What we have are various
groups controlling several areas. It means you will fight to enforce peace
there. So if you go there, you will be fighting several groups," he said
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