Peacekeepers force battle to Mogadishu outskirts

2012-01-20 10:44

African Union peacekeeping forces have pushed their way to the northern outskirts of Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, for the first time after a morning of fierce fighting with Islamist insurgent group al-Shabaab, the force’s spokesperson said today.

The mission, known as Amisom, in August succeeded in driving al-Shabaab’s forces out of most of Mogadishu, but the insurgents have continued to launch hit-and-run attacks on the Ugandan and Burundian forces.

Lieutenant-Colonel Paddy Ankunda said today’s fighting, which he said saw three al-Shabaab bases captured in the northern extremities of the city, was aimed at preventing such attacks.

“The idea was to consolidate our positions and try to underline our forces to the north, where there was a gap between Burundi forces and Ugandan forces,” he told dpa.

“That gap was used by insurgents to infiltrate and kill our soldiers.”

Two peacekeepers were seriously wounded in the fighting, Ankunda said. There was no immediate information on casualties from the insurgent side.

Al-Shabaab has been fighting to oust the weak central government since early 2007, but in recent months has come under serious pressure from Amisom, government forces and Kenyan troops.

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