28/05/08 (B449-B) ALL Africa avec New Vision / Somalie : des insurgés attaquent les soldats ougandais de l’Amisom – 10 morts / Somalia: Islamists Attack Ugandan Peacekeepers ( En Anglais – Info lecteur)

Abdi Sheikh – Kampala

Ugandan peace-keeping troops defend the airport in Mogadishu against militia in a previous encounter

Islamist insurgents attacked Ugandan peacekeepers in Mogadishu on Monday night, killing at least 10 people and injuring a dozen others in the crossfire.

« An unknown group attacked us at Kilometer 4, using mortars, rocket-propelled grenades and small arms but we repulsed them, » AU force spokesman Maj. Barigye Ba-Hoku told The New Vision.

« There were no casualties from our side but we killed two of them and recovered two guns. »

He added that the attackers wore uniforms similar to those of the government army and the police while others were in civilian clothes.

Residents said two mortars killed eight people and wounded nine others in the attack. A stray rocket-propelled grenade killed a further two people, according to witnesses.

A contingent of 1,600 Ugandan peacekeepers and 600 Burundian troops, known as AMISOM, are in Somalia to protect the transitional government and strategic positions such as the port and the airport. The Shabab militia, which the United States has labelled a terrorist organisation, claimed responsibility for Monday’s attack.

« Our mujahideen forces carried out an attack on the so-called AMISOM and our operation was successful, » Shabab spokesman Mukhtar Ali Robow told Reuters.

« We had neither injuries nor deaths and we shall continue attacking them until Somalia is liberated. »

In another incident on Tuesday noon, Ugandan soldiers detonated two landmines on the road from the airport, where the AU peacekeeping force has its base.

« The land mines, which must have been planted the previous night, were at the same position where a land mine hit our vehicle last week, wounding five soldiers, » Ba-Hoku explained.

He said the intentions of the attackers were to scare Somalis from accessing services offered by AMISOM, stop the peacekeepers from executing their task and for propaganda purposes.

Last week, a UN expert panel accused Ugandan, Ethiopian and Somali troops of selling arms to insurgents in violation of a 1992 arms embargo. Both Kampala and Addis Ababa have denied the allegations. Thousands have been killed and nearly one million displaced in fighting in Somalia since the Islamic Courts were ousted in late 2006 by Ethiopian-backed government troops