Saturday, January 26, 2008

Landmine blast wounds AU peacekeepers in Somalia

By Aweys Yusuf and Abdi Sheikh

MOGADISHU (Reuters) - A landmine blast wounded at least three African Union peacekeepers in the Somali capital on Saturday, witnesses and a spokesman for the AU force said.

Soldiers from Uganda and Burundi are serving as peacekeepers in Mogadishu, where the interim government faces an insurgency led by remnants of a hardline Islamic courts movement.
Captain Barigye Bahouku, the AU force spokesman, said one of their vehicles hit a landmine planted near Mogadishu's sea port.

"A number of our troops have been injured but I do not have the full details yet," he said by telephone.

A witness said at least three peacekeepers were hurt.

"I saw three wounded soldiers lying down. They were bleeding badly," local resident Mohamed Qalinle told Reuters. He said Somali government troops sealed off the site of the explosion and arrested several people.

In a separate incident, a remote-controlled roadside bomb killed one government soldier and two civilians in the Elgab neighbourhood of southern Mogadishu.
"The bomb was remotely set off when the government military vehicle was passing," a police spokesman said.

Fighting in Mogadishu alone killed 6,500 people last year, according to a local human rights group tracking the death toll.

Hundreds of thousands of civilians have been forced to abandon their homes and livelihoods in what the United Nations calls Africa's worst humanitarian crisis.

Somalia has been mired in anarchy since warlords toppled military dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991. The interim government's attempts to restore central rule have largely been paralysed by infighting and the Islamist-led insurgency.

Source: Reuters


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