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

This US Epidemic Keeps Getting Worse

One in 4 Americans suffers from this condition More

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends 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.
Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thoughti
X
George Putic
May 26, 2015 9:26 PM
Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.

VOA Blogs