28 June 2009

Somalia: Five Killed As Mortars Target Presidential Palace

Mogadishu — At least five people were killed and 14 others wounded Sunday in the Somali capital Mogadishu after suspected insurgents targeted the presidential compound with mortars and government forces responded with artillery fire, Radio Garowe reports.

At least four of the victims were killed when a single artillery shell slammed into a crowded area in Mogadishu's Hodan district, witnesses said.

Local sources reported that the artillery fire originated from Villa Somalia presidential compound, where government forces and African Union peacekeepers (AMISOM) are protecting Somali President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed.

President Sheikh Sharif, who was holding a press conference at the of the time, told reporters that government forces were responding to mortar attacks and were specifically targeting "areas where Al Qaeda foreign fighters are based."

He rejected media speculation that government forces were targeting civilian areas, while praising government troops and AMISOM peacekeepers for their security efforts.

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