Monday, January 21, 2008

Mortar Rounds Land Inside Somali Palace

MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) — Mortar shells landed inside the Somali presidential palace Sunday during a news conference announcing the prime minister's move to the capital.
Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein, who was appointed in November, said that he and his team of 18 ministers moved from the relatively safe city of Baidoa to Mogadishu to concentrate on security and reconciliation.

"You have welcomed us," the prime minister said, shortly before eight mortar rounds landed in the area.

Sa'id Mohamud Dhore, a nearby resident, said that six mortars landed inside the compound and two outside. The area was immediately cordoned off and it was unclear whether there were any casualties.

On Thursday, at least 20 people were killed in the Somali capital when Islamic militants fired mortar shells and guns, sparking crossfire with Ethiopian troops and their Somali government allies.

A radical Islamic group that was driven from power a year ago by a Western-supported offensive is making a significant comeback in Somalia and the government can do little to stop it, government officials say.

Thousands of Somalis died in fighting last year between Islamic insurgents and the Somali government and their Ethiopian allies. The insurgents had briefly taken control of the capital and much of the south before the Ethiopian troops pushed them back on behalf of the shaky transitional government in December 2005.

Somalia has not had a functioning government since 1991, when rival warlords overthrew dictator Mohamed Siad Barre and then fought each other for power.

Source: AP

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