From: Berhane Habtemariam (Berhane.Habtemariam@gmx.de)
Date: Wed Sep 23 2009 - 10:48:38 EDT
Somalia gun battle claims lives
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
08:53 Mecca time, 05:53 GMT
At least eight people are reported to have been killed and dozens more
wounded during a gun battle in Mogadishu, the Somali capital.
Members of Somalia's al-Shabab group attacked an African Union peacekeeping
base, sparking the clash on Tuesday, officials said.
A spokesman for the AU force, Bahoku Barigye, said no peacekeepers were
killed in the firefight.
Witnesses reported seeing at least eight corpses.
"The bodies were beyond recognition. There was blood and flesh everywhere,"
Hassan Mohamoud, a witness, said.
Last week al-Shabab launched two suicide car bombs on the main AU force base
in Mogadishu, killing 17 peacekeepers.
It was the deadliest single attack on the force of 5,000 troops from Burundi
and Uganda since they arrived in 2007.
At least 29 Burundian soldiers have been killed in the country since their
Al-Shabab said that attack was in retaliation for a US raid on September 14
that killed Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, an al-Qaeda suspect, in southern
The US military has launched several air attacks inside Somalia in the past
against individuals blamed for the bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and
Tanzania in 1998.
In May last year, US aircraft killed Aden Hashi Ayro, the then leader of
al-Shabab and allegedly a senior al-Qaeda member, in an attack on the
central town of Dusamareb.
Al-Shabab - meaning "the Youth" in Arabic - is believed to be largest group
among several Islamist and clan militias battling the UN-backed transitional
government in Somalia.
Al-Shabab says it seeks to impose its own strict version of Islamic law
The group is accused by the US of having links to al-Qaeda, and is believed
to have been reinforced with foreign fighters.
The FBI has expressed concern that al-Shabab may be expanding its reach and
actively recruiting Western nationals to fight in Somalia.
No one knows for sure where the group gets its financial and logistical
support, but Eritrea and some Arab countries have been accused of funding
the conflict in the Horn of Africa.
The country has been ravaged by violence and anarchy since regional
commanders overthrew Mohamed Siad Barre, the then president, in 1991, before
turning on each other.
Piracy has flourished off the Somali coast, making the Gulf of Aden one of
the most dangerous waterways in the world.
Profile: Sharif Ahmed
1898> Inside Story:
1898> What next for Somalia
Riz Khan: Somalia - From bad to worse
Who are al-Shabab?
Somali fighters undeterred
<http://english.aljazeera.net/focus/2009/02/200922393740632257> at a
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