20 July 2009

Somalia: African Union Peacekeepers Repulse Attack, Three Killed

Mogadishu — Islamist insurgents attacked the AU peacekeepers, known as AMISOM, stationed at the KM4 area at the center of the capital, witnesses said.

"We transported 14 wounded persons around the Bakara Market area," said the head of Mogadishu's Lifeline Africa ambulance service.

Witnesses and local sources reported that heavy shelling shook the city, as artillery fire hit neighborhoods inside and around the Bakara Market area.

Witness Mohamed Hassan said people began running in all directions as the heavy shelling began in the early evening. "We did not expect it," he added.

AMISOM spokesman Maj. Bahoku Barigye confirmed to reporters that AMISOM peacekeepers were attacked and they defended themselves. He noted that there were no casualties on the AMISOM side.

Insurgent commanders who spoke on Mogadishu-based radio stations claimed responsibility for the evening attack, adding that there were no casualties on the their side.

The 4,300-strong AMISOM peacekeeping force guards important installations in Mogadishu, including the Villa Somalia presidential compound, the main port and the international airport.

Somalia has been marred by political violence since the eruption of civil war in 1991, when clan warlords overthrew a military dictatorship and plunged the Horn of Africa country into chaos.

Islamist hardliners have waged a bloody insurgency to overthrow the U.N.-recognized interim government since early 2007.

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