At least 11 people, including six African Union (AU) peacekeepers, have been killed after two large car bombs exploded in the AU’s headquarters in Mogadishu, on Thursday 09/17/2009.
Seven more people were also killed and 18 wounded in gun battles that broke out after the blasts, witnesses said.
Sheikh Ali Mohamud Rage, a spokesman for rebel group al-Shabab, claimed responsibility for the attacks saying they were to avenge the death of Saleh Ali Nabhan, who was killed in southern Somalia on Monday during a raid by USA Special Forces on 09/14/2009 (see – Barawe Raid). One of the bombers was later idntified, most likely, as the American born Omar Mohamud.
Nicolas Bwakira, the AU’s special representative for Somalia, said in a statement: “At least two bombs exploded at the force headquarters at about midday … causing injuries and damage to Amisom peacekeepers, facilities and equipment.
“Despite this barbaric attack, the African Union remains resolute in its commitment to support the Somali people and the … government in their peace and reconciliation efforts.”
The bombings came just hours after al-Shabab issued demands in return for the release of a French security consultant the group is holding hostage, including an immediate end to French support for Somalia’s fragile government (see – Mogadishu 07.13.09).
The French hostage is one of two security consultants kidnapped by gunmen in Mogadishu in July. The second hostage, Marc Aubriere, managed to escape on 08/26/2009.
In return for his release, al-Shabab demanded the “immediate cessation of any political or military support to the apostate government of Somalia and the withdrawal of all its security advisers in Somalia”, the rebels said in a statement.
They demanded the withdrawal of AU troops supporting President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed’s administration and the departure of French warships trying to stamp out piracy in Somali waters.
The insurgents’ statement also called for the release of mujahidin prisoners in countries to be named later.
Fighting in Somalia has killed more than 18,000 civilians since the start of 2007 and left another 1.5 million homeless.
Thursday’s attack was the worst on AU peacekeepers since 11 Burundians were killed and 28 wounded in February by two suicide bombers who infiltrated their base.
* Related topics –
07/2009 AL-SHABAB BARS U.N AGENCIES
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