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Mortar Shells Hit Somali Presidential Residence in Mogadishu


Government troops in Somalia have battled unidentified gunmen who attacked the president's residence in the capital, Mogadishu.

Witnesses say the attackers fired mortar shells into the residence of interim President Abdullahi Yusuf late Friday and then exchanged gunfire with troops before retreating.

It is not clear whether the president was in the building or if anyone was hurt in the attack.

In neighboring Ethiopia, the African Union's Peace and Security Council approved a plan to send nearly eight-thousand A.U. peacekeepers to Somalia on a six-month mission.

The council said it expects the troops to be replaced eventually by United Nations peacekeepers.

So far, only Uganda has offered troops to the proposed mission. Lawmakers from Uganda's ruling party late Thursday approved sending 15-hundred troops.

The United Nations special envoy to Somalia, Francois Fall, has urged the international community to help protect the Somali capital and to facilitate the withdrawal of Ethiopian troops. Ethiopian officials have indicated they will be leaving soon.

Somali government troops and their Ethiopian allies pushed Islamist forces out of Mogadishu last month.

Somalia has been without an effective central government since warlords overthrew dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991.

Some information for this report provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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