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Somali Gunmen Ambush Ethiopian Troops


Somalia's capital is still reeling from an ambush by gunmen on a convoy of Ethiopian troops late Sunday. Cathy Majtenyi reports for VOA from Nairobi that a delegation from the African Union is in the capital to discuss bringing foreign peacekeepers into the volatile nation.

The ambush took place before midnight Sunday in the northern Arafat area of Mogadishu.

Journalist Ali Said Omar Ibrahim tells VOA another contingent of Ethiopian soldiers rushed to the scene to help their colleagues, but was also ambushed. About 30 minutes of gunfire and heavy fighting followed.

Ibrahim describes to VOA the scene early Monday morning.

"There were three convoys, three trucks, and two of them were completely burned out," he said. "Someone was telling me this morning that he had seen that one truck was there, but the Ethiopians tried to hide their loss."

It is unclear who was responsible for the ambush. Several people were killed and wounded.

Meanwhile, an African Union delegation is in the capital to discuss the deployment of eight-thousand African peacekeepers to Somalia.

Only Uganda has offered troops, saying it is willing to send 1500 soldiers.

Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki sent senior ministers to South Africa, Rwanda and Tanzania to seek support for the African Union's plan. In addition to those three countries, Nigeria, Mozambique, Angola, Zambia, Tunisia and Algeria are also being asked to help with the peacekeeping force.

On Saturday, Somalia's transitional government imposed martial law on the capital and has been raiding several locations in the capital believed to be Islamist hideouts. Government troops seized rocket-propelled grenade launchers, heavy machine guns and AK-47 guns from these locations and has also been trying to collect guns from residents.

On Monday, there were conflicting reports about whether or not a man who Kenyan police arrested at a refugee camp near the Somali border was a top official with the Islamic Courts Union.

Ever since civil war broke out in 1991, militias loyal to clan and sub-clan-based factions have controlled different parts of the country, with no central authority to provide law and order and even basic services to the population.

A transitional Somali parliament was formed in Kenya about two years ago, following a regionally-led peace process.

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