AU peacekeepers killed in Somalia, Islamists vow more attacks

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

On Sunday, suicide bombers killed 11 African Union (AU) peacekeepers in Somalia and injured at least 15 others. Two bombers drove a truck loaded with explosives into the AU camp housing Burundi soldiers in Mogadishu and detonated it.

"These attacks have reached today an unprecedented level, resulting in the killing of 11 Burundian soldiers, while 15 others have sustained serious injuries," the African Union said in a statement. Troops were unloading supplies for their camp when militants drove a truck into the camp, then detonating it.

"Attacks by these evil forces will not deter Burundi or the African Union to help Somalis. We will reinforce our contingent with material and personnel," the Burundi government said.

A remnant of earlier combat as photographed in 2007.
Image: Carl Montgomery.

Al-Shabaab, a Somali militia, claimed responsibility. The group's leader, Mukhtar Robow, issued a statement after the attack warning residents and troops to "go home, otherwise you will meet our hell". Al-Shabaab is considered to be formed from remnants of the Islamic Courts Union (ICU). The group claims that at least 52 people were killed and 34 others injured in the suicide attack.

"This is our land and you are non-believers," read an Al-Shabaab statement in Somali on a website used by the militants. "Leave us for your safety or we shall never tire of increasing your death toll." The site showed images of the alleged militants responsible for the attack.

Recently, other Islamist groups have pledged loyalty to President Sharif Ahmed, also formerly of the ICU, though considered a moderate. Al-Shabaab has rejected his government, which won a January 31 election.

"They are trying to destabilize the situation and take away attention from the good news," said Susannah Price, a spokesperson for the United Nations.

There are 3,400 Burundi and Uganda troops in Somalia, however, the AU peacekeeping force is supposed to number 8,000.


Sources

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