4 September 2009

Somalia: 9 Dead During Insurgent Attack on African Peacekeeper Base

Mogadishu — The fighting erupted overnight Thursday around ex-Jalle Siyad College compound, where African Union peacekeepers from Burundi are stationed. The AU force, known as AMISOM, has been serving in Mogadishu since early 2007 to defend the Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG) against insurgents.

"Two civilians were killed inside a house in Daynile district [south Mogadishu], while three [other] civilians were killed at a house near Bakara Market," said a witness, who reported that more civilians were wounded in both incidents when shells slammed into homes.

It was unclear where the shells originated from, but heavy artillery was exchanged between the two sides during the battle, local sources said.

At least 19 wounded civilians were rushed to Mogadishu hospitals for treatment, according to emergency workers.

AMISOM commanders have not spoken about the latest deadly violence. Somali insurgent factions Al Shabaab and Hizbul Islam have not claimed responsibility for the attack.

It was not clear whether peacekeepers or insurgents were killed or hurt during the attack, which comes during Islam's holy month of Ramadan.

The insurgency in Mogadishu and other parts of south-central Somalia threatens to overthrow the TFG, which is cornered to a few pockets of the seaside capital but enjoys international support.

Meanwhile, the humanitarian crisis deepens in Somalia with UK-based aid agency Oxfam reporting that Somali refugee camps inside Somalia and in neighboring countries are "overcrowded" due to the relentless insurgency. REPORT: Overcrowded and desperate camps in Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia 'barely fit for humans'

Somalia has been plagued by civil war, drought and an insurgency since the early 1990s when a U.N. peacekeeping mission failed to restore order the chaotic Horn of Africa country.

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