Somali insurgents threaten to attack Ugandan, Burundian capitals: reports

18:58, October 23, 2009      

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Somali hardline Al Shabaab insurgents have threatened to launch assaults on the capitals of two central African countries, Uganda and Burundi, according to agencies' reports.

Sheikh Ali Mohamed Hussein, a commander of the group Al Shabaab, was quoted as telling reporters later on Thursday in the Somali capital Mogadishu that he called on moving the fighting to the capitals of Uganda and Burundi.

The development came one after nearly 20 people were killed and more than 65 others wounded on Thursday after Islamist insurgents in Somalia fired mortars at the airport in the capital city where Somali President Sheik Sherif Sheik Ahmed was about to board a plane.

The rebel mortars led to fierce battles and shellings between the insurgents and the Somali government forces backed by African Union (AU) peacekeepers in Mogadishu, killing nearly 20 people and wounding 65 others, according to local ambulance services.

The shelling duel, the heaviest in weeks, began after Islamist fighters fired mortar shells at the city's airport and bases of the Somali government forces and AU peacekeepers

Somali President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed was on his way to the Ugandan capital Kampala where he will attend the AU summit on Refugees. Government officials said the president flew safely.

Islamist fighters wage nearly daily attacks on the Somali government and African Union peacekeepers in Mogadishu but civilians bear the brunt of the attacks.

The Somali government control small parts in the capital Mogadishu while Islamist rebels run much of south and center of the war ravaged country.

Uganda and Burundi have over 4,000 peacekeeping troops deployed in volatile Somalia under the African Union Mission in Somalia. The forces are under constant attack from insurgents there.

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