At least 11 killed in Somalia attack

Insurgents trying to attack African Union peacekeepers hit a restaurant in Somalia's capital.
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Updated on Mar 08, 2007 12:56 PM IST
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Reuters | By, Mogadishu

Insurgents trying to attack African Union peacekeepers hit a restaurant in Somalia's capital Mogadishu with a rocket-propelled grenade, killing at least nine people in the building, residents said on Thursday.

They said two other people were killed in the clash between the insurgents and the peacekeepers on Wednesday, but it was not immediately clear whether the two were guerrillas or civilians.

Islamists, driven out of Mogadishu by the interim government and Ethiopian forces in December, have vowed to fight the peacekeepers and are believed to be behind almost daily attacks in the city.

The first African Union (AU) peacekeepers, a unit of Ugandan soldiers, arrived in the capital this week.

"The place was littered with human limbs. The death toll from the restaurant alone is nine people," said a Mogadishu resident, who gave his name as Mohamed.

"Opposite the restaurant, in the direction that the Ugandans were firing, lay two bodies but the death toll is higher than those two," he said.

No immediate comment was available from the AU peacekeepers.

The proposed 8,000-strong AU force is designed to help Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf's government extend its shaky authority over the Horn of Africa country, anarchic since dictator Mohamed Siad Barre was toppled in 1991.

The government, backed by Ethiopian armor and air power in a lightning war over Christmas and New Year, routed the Islamists, who held most of southern Somalia for six months. The AU force is due to replace Ethiopia's troops.

The Ugandan peacekeepers have been assigned to patrol Mogadishu, one of the world's most dangerous and gun-infested cities.

But as with a peacekeeping operation in Sudan's Darfur region, the AU faces a shortage of money and equipment.

Nigeria, Ghana, Malawi and Burundi are also expected to send troops to join the AU force, but pledges so far make up only about half of the required number of soldiers.

None of the previous 13 attempts at establishing a central government in Somalia since 1991 have succeeded in stamping out anarchy.

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