News / Africa

Mortar Kills AU Peacekeepers in Somalia

A mortar attack on the presidential palace in the Somali capital has killed at least four African Union peacekeepers and critically wounded nine others. For the past week, the peacekeeping force, protecting the country's U.N.-backed government in Mogadishu, has been battling a new round of attacks by al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab militants.

Failed attack

According to the spokesman of the African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia, Barigye Ba-Hoku, a mortar round fired from an al-Shabab position near the presidential palace exploded near a contingent of Ugandan peacekeepers guarding the palace compound, also known as Villa Somalia.

Ba-Hoku called the mortar strike a "lucky hit" for the al-Qaida-linked militants, who are battling to overthrow Somalia's weak, U.N.-backed government and to force the withdrawal of the peacekeeping force.

Uganda and Burundi are the only countries contributing troops to the 6,000-member African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia. Uganda was the target of twin suicide bombings last month in Kampala, which al-Shabab said it carried out in retaliation for Uganda's participation in the peacekeeping mission.

al-Shabab renews efforts

Vowing last week to wage a massive, final war against the government and the African Union troops, al-Shabab has renewed its efforts to seize power in the Somali capital.

Last Tuesday, two al-Shabab suicide bombers, disguised as government security forces, killed more than 30 people, including parliament members and civil servants at a Mogadishu hotel. As the fighting in the capital escalated, killing and wounding dozens more, reports suggested that hundreds of al-Shabab reinforcements had arrived from other parts of Somalia.

On Friday, al-Shabab's self-styled mayor, Ali Mohamed Hussein, said al-Shabab had captured government military bases and the Mogadishu base of pro-government Sufi Muslim militia, Ahlu-Sunna Wal-Jama'a.

Declaring al-Shabab victory in Friday's battle, Hussein said the extremist group was getting closer to its goal of throwing out the government. An Ahlu-Sunna official subsequently denied that the Sufi militia had been defeated and said the militia had only made a tactical retreat.  

Some of the worst fighting in the Somali capital occurred the following day, as al-Shabab fighters pressed their way into Muka al-Mukarama Road, a vital thoroughfare that connects the presidential palace and government ministries to the airport.

Questions raised

Government soldiers, backed up by African Union firepower, beat back the al-Shabab advance. But the incident raised further questions about the government, which has not been able to stand up a security force of its own.

In the past two years, thousands of Somalis have been given police and military training by various countries, including Ethiopia, Kenya, and European Union member states, to keep al-Shabab at bay while the government demonstrated that it could govern and provide basic services to the people. But the majority of the recruits are believed to have defected to al-Shabab or have sold their uniform and arms and disappeared after the government failed to pay their salaries.

In a press release, Somali President Sharif Sheik Ahmed said the government is committed to re-establishing law and order in Mogadishu and elsewhere in Somalia. But he said it needed far more attention and financial help from the international community.

President Sharif noted that Somalia does not receive the kind of international assistance given to other countries suffering terrorist-related violence, such as Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iraq, even though Somalia is facing a similar, if not more potent, enemy.

You May Like

HRW: Egypt's Trial of Morsi ‘Badly Flawed’

Human Rights Watch says former Egypt leader's detention without charge for more than three weeks after his removal from office violated Egyptian law; government rejects criticism More

Photogallery Lancet Report Calls for Major Investment in Surgery

In its report published by The Lancet, panel of experts says people are dying from conditions easily treated in the operating room such as hernia, appendicitis, obstructed labor, and serious fractures More

Music Industry Under Sway of Digital Revolution

Millions of people in every corner of the Earth now can enjoy a vast variety and quantity of music in a way that has never before been possible More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs