SomaliPress.com

Death Toll from Militia Attack on an African Union Base by Somali Insurgents has risen to 21

Published on Friday 18th September 2009

The death toll from Thursday's attack on an African Union base by Somali insurgents has risen to 21 as investigations are launched into the daring suicide bombing.

Al-Shabaab forces, retaliating over an earlier attack by US security forces that killed a top al-Qaeda suspect, Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, drove into the AU peace keepers' base in Mogadishu in two bomb-laden trucks. The trucks had UN logos.

The bombs went off inside the camp. Twelve Burundian, five Ugandan and four Somali soldiers are confirmed dead while 26 others who were injured seriously, were evacuated to Nairobi for treatment.

While sending AU's message of condolence to the bereaved families, the special representative for Somalia, Mr Nicholas Bwakira, urged the international community to play a bigger role in bringing the Somali instability to an end.

Superior weapons

Mr Bwakira said the Thursday attack was a barbaric act, adding that it will not dampen the morale and spirit of the peace keepers.

"We need more superior weapons, human capacity and technical ability to wipe out the insurgents," Mr Bwakira said.

He said that at least 40 people were injured and that the evacuation process is still going on. Among those killed is the deputy force commander of African Mission in Somali (Amisom) Maj-Gen Juvenal Niyoyunguruza.

Mr Bwakira refused to comment on the US operation, saying: "That can only be answered by the American government. However, the attack has served to embolden our resolve to fulfil our mandate."

Addressing an international press conference in Nairobi, Mr Bwakira said the number of peace keepers had been increased from 2,500 to more that 5,000.

He said they remained resolute in supporting the Somali people and the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and urged the international community to support the process.

Somali insurgents detonated two suicide car bombs on Thursday morning at the African Union peace keepers' headquarters in Mogadishu, killing nine soldiers on the spot.

At the same time, Al-Shabaab, the Islamist movement opposing somalia's Transitional Federal Government, has vowed to step up suicide attacks against foreign forces operating in the country.

In a statement, Sheikh Ali Mohamud Raghe alias Ali Dhere, the spokesman of the insurgent group, said that they will keep the foreign forces, mainly African Union mission peace keepers (Amisom), on their toes "with deadlier suicide bombings".

Presence not wanted

"Their presence in this country is not wanted," he added.

The Al-Shabaab spokesman also said that the insurgents will increase assaults on government forces. TFG Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke condemned the Thursday attack on Amisom soldiers.

Meanwhile, Sheikh Yusuf Mohamed Siyad Indha'adde, TFG's State Minister for Defence, said that the suicide acts by bombers were "cowardly".

Sheikh Yusuf Indha'adde warned that the TFG will avenge the killings. "The government will retaliate soon," he said, adding: "The anti-peace forces will face the consequences of their brutal actions."

Another TFG official made similar remarks against Al-Shabaab and Hizbu Islam, the second Islamist group opposing the government. Colonel Abdullahi Hassan Barise, the Spokesman of the Police Force, accused the two Islamist movements of rejecting all peace proposals.

"Through the suicide bombings in Mogadishu, the anti-peace groups have shown their true colours," said Colonel Barise. "It amounts to a declaration of war and we shall respond accordingly," he said.

Thursday's attack brings the total number of peace keepers killed to 35 with Maj-Gen Niyoyunguriza the highest ranking officer to be killed so far.

Eleven Burundian soldiers were attacked in a similar manner in February.

The peace keepers were deployed in 2007 to guard the Presidential Palace, airport and seaport. Uganda has committed some 3,000 troops to the mission while Burundi maintains at least 2,000 troops.

Other African countries have been reluctant to send troops to back up the two countries.

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