25/01/07 (B379) BBC / Le principal aéroport sous le feu – 4 personnes tuées – Somali airport comes under fire (Info lectrice en Anglais)

Four people
have been injured in a mortar attack at the main airport in Somalia’s capital,

correspondent said one person was seriously injured in the attack, moments
before the arrival of a plane carrying a United Nations delegation.

It comes
a day after some 200 Ethiopian troops left their base at the airport to return
home after helping the government defeat Islamists last month.

In Kenya,
the US envoy held talks with a top Islamist leader in custody.

US ambassador
to Kenya Michael Ranneberger met Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed at an undisclosed
location in Nairobi, a US official told the BBC.

No details
were given about what was discussed at the meeting.

The chairman
of the Union of Islamic Courts, who is the first Islamist leader to be captured
since they fled an Ethiopian advance in December, is seen by the US as a moderate.


The BBC’s
Mohamed Olad Hassan, at the airport in Mogadishu, says it is unclear who is
responsible for the attack and where it was targeted.

Nine battalions proposed – up to 9,000 troops:
Uganda : 1,500 troops offered, subject to parliamentary approval
Malawi: Up to 1,000 troops offered
Tanzania: Considering
Nigeria: Considering
Rwanda: Considering
South Africa: Considering but forces stretched

mortar shells landed at the Mogadishu International Airport and dozens of
people who were in the airports grounds fled amid fears of more attacks,"
witness Ahmed Hersi told the French news agency, AFP.

The Islamists
who fled Mogadishu have threatened to wage a guerrilla war against the transitional
government and Ethiopian troops.

The government
says as many as 3,500 Islamist fighters may still be in Mogadishu.
Government support

Mr Ahmed
surrendered to Kenyan officials near the Somali border at the weekend.
Ambassador Rannenberger said that if Mr Ahmed renounces violence and extremism
he could play a part in a future administration in Somalia.

The US
and the UN have both urged the Somali government to seek reconciliation with
moderate Islamists, but the interim government is opposed to talks with them.

The US
backed Ethiopia’s intervention and has committed over $40m for development,
humanitarian and peacekeeping support to Somalia this year.

On Tuesday,
the first 200 Ethiopian soldiers left Mogadishu’s airport following a withdrawal
ceremony, amid cheers from Somalis.

is determined to pull its troops out as soon as possible, but plans for an
African Union force to help ensure peace are still to be finalised, with only
Malawi and Uganda offering troops so far.

Minister Meles Zenawi has told journalists that the withdrawal will not leave
a power vacuum.

withdraw our troops in three phases. My expectation is that our last phase
will coincide with the AU deployment," he said.