9 August 2009

Somalia: Amisom, Insurgents Trade Accusations Over Bakara Shelling

Mogadishu — At least 10 people were killed Saturday after shells hit businesses inside Bakara, witnesses said, while 22 others were wounded.

Somali insurgents accused AMISOM peacekeepers of shelling the market, but AMISOM spokesman Maj. Bahoku Barigye said the insurgents launched mortars at the international airport, where AMISOM troops stand guard.

At the time, a plane transporting Somali President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed was returning to Mogadishu after meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Nairobi, Kenya.

"We [AMISOM] are not involved in the shelling and we regret the loss of civilian lives," the spokesman said.

He accused insurgents of "opposing stability," saying: "We are a peacekeeping force. We do not leave our camps...they [insurgents] wish to mislead the [Somali] public by false allegations."

AMISOM is a 5,000-strong peacekeeping force of Ugandan and Burundian soldiers that has been serving in Mogadishu since March 2007. AMISOM troops guard the Villa Somalia presidential compound, the main port and the international aiport.

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