Ethiopian troops bolstering Somalia’s weak interim government were targeted in a rocket attack Thursday in the capital Mogadishu, witnesses said.
An insurgent rocket propelled grenade hit a convoy of Ethiopian army trucks transporting water to a military base in north Mogadishu located near the ex-pasta factory.
Three Ethiopian soldiers on board one of two water trucks were killed immediately after the truck exploded, according to eyewitness accounts.
Ethiopian army reinforcements rushed to the scene from their base at the former pasta factory.
A 20-minute skirmish ensued, pitting the Ethiopian troops against suspected insurgents linked to the country’s Islamist rebels.
One of the insurgents was shot and killed by the soldiers, a witness told Garowe Online by telephone.
The remaining group of attackers was forced to flee the scene after the Ethiopian soldiers outgunned them.
The exploded water truck was towed away while the second water truck, which was unharmed, was escorted back to base under heavy guard.
Minister’s car bombed
In a separate incident, the personal car of Somali Information Minister Ahmed Abdisalan was targeted in a landmine explosion that wounded the driver and a bodyguard, witnesses said.
Mr. Abdisalan, who also holds the post of Deputy Prime Minister, was not in the car when the landmine exploded. But his personal driver and a bodyguard were wounded, according to the driver who spoke to local media afterwards.
No group has claimed responsibility for planting the landmine, but security sources linked the attack to insurgents fighting to topple the country’s secular government.
Mogadishu police spokesman Abdullahi Shasha told reporters today that no government soldier was hurt in an overnight insurgent attack.
Locals reported that heavy fighting erupted overnight Wednesday along the Maka-al-Mukarama Road. But the situation was calm as of Thursday morning, with hundreds of Ethiopian and Somali soldiers patrolling the street.
Somalia’s rebels have waged a relentless guerrilla war against the interim government and its Ethiopian military backers since early 2007 when Mogadishu’s Islamist rulers were militarily ousted from power.
Thousands of people have died in the ongoing war, creating a humanitarian crisis where more than 1 million Somalis remain internally displaced.