Four peacekeepers killed in Somalia

August 30th, 2010 - 11:20 pm ICT by IANS  

Mogadishu, Aug 30 (DPA) Four African Union peacekeepers were among 10 people killed in the Somali capital Mogadishu Monday as the Horn of Africa nation’s president called for help against a growing insurgency.
The radical Islamist group al-Shabaab, which is battling to oust the weak Western-backed government, last Monday launched an offensive against the government and AU peacekeepers.

Major Barigye Ba-Hoku, spokesman for the AU peacekeeping mission known as AMISOM, told DPA that four Ugandan soldiers were killed when an insurgent mortar hit the presidential palace.

Stray shells elsewhere landed in civilian areas, officials said.

“We have collected six dead bodies and 20 wounded people, mainly in the Bakara Market,” Ali Muse, head of the Mogadishu ambulance service, told DPA.

Almost 100 people have died since the onslaught began, including 33 in a suicide attack on a hotel that killed four lawmakers.

An al-Shabaab spokesman said that the group had seized ground from the government, which is penned into a few enclaves in Mogadishu, protected by AMISOM.

President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed appealed for more international help against the Al Qaeda-aligned militants.

“It is quite impractical to expect Somalia alone to contain the evil Al Qaeda-al-Shabaab alliance, as we are emerging from 20 years of destruction and a chaotic political environment,” he said in a statement.

Approximately 6,000 peacekeepers from Uganda and Burundi are propping up the government, although deployment of an extra 2,000 troops pledged by East African grouping IGAD has begun.

Uganda is keen to send more soldiers to Somalia after al-Shabaab bombed Uganda’s capital Kampala - its first attack on foreign soil - in July, killing 76.

The insurgents said they carried out the bombing in retaliation for the actions of Ugandan peacekeepers in Mogadishu.

The current insurgency, which has claimed more than 21,000 lives, kicked off in early 2007, following Ethiopia’s invasion to oust the ruling Islamist regime.

Al-Shabaab has grown in strength in recent times, backed by an influx of foreign fighters from Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Somalia has been immersed in chaos since the 1991 ouster of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre.

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