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

US, China Have Dueling Definitions of Cybersecurity

Analysts say attribution or or proving that a particular individual or government is responsible for a hack, is a daunting task More

Snowden: I'd Go to Prison to Return to US

Former NSA contractor says he has not received a formal plea-deal offer from US officials, who consider him to be a traitor More

Goodbye Pocahontas: Photos Reveal Today's Real Native Americans

Weary of stereotypes, photographer Matika Wilbur is determined to reshape the public's perception of her people More

This forum has been closed.
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.
Making a Minti
October 07, 2015 4:17 AM
While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video Self-Driving Cars Getting Closer

We are at the dawn of the robotic car age and should start getting used to seeing self-driving cars, at least on highways. Car and truck manufacturers are now running a tight race to see who will be the first to hit the street, while some taxicab companies are already planning to upgrade their fleets. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Clinton Seeks to Boost Image Before Upcoming Debate

The five announced Democratic party presidential contenders meet in their first debate next Tuesday in Las Vegas, Nevada. Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton continues to lead the Democratic field, but she is getting a stronger-than-expected challenge from Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.

Video Music Brings Generations Together

When musicians over the age of 50 headline a rock concert, you expect to see baby boomer fans in the audience. Boomer rock stars have boomer fans. Millennial rock stars have millennial fans. But this isn’t always the case. Take the Lockn’ Music festival which took place in mid-September in rural Arrington, Virginia. Here, Jacquelyn de Phillips discovered two generations of people who are considered quite different in the outside world, spending 4 days together in music-loving harmony.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video South Carolina Reels Under Worst-ever Flooding

South Carolina is reeling from the worst flooding in recorded history that forced residents from their homes and left thousands without drinking water and electricity. Parts of the state, including the capital, Columbia, received about 60 centimeters of rain in just a couple of days. Authorities warn that the end of rain does not mean the end of danger, as it will take days for the water to recede. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs