Friday, October 17, 2008
By Ibrahim Mohamed and Abdi Sheikh
Gunmen shot dead a Somali man working for the United Nations' World Food Programme on Friday and fighting in the capital Mogadishu killed at least 14 people.
In the latest assassination in the anarchic Horn of Africa nation, men armed with pistols attacked the U.N. employee as he left a mosque in the central town of Merka.
"We were praying inside and then rushed to the scene," local man Ahmed Salad told Reuters. "We saw the WFP official was terribly wounded and bleeding from his chest."
A U.N. source named the dead man as Abdinasir Aden Muse. "We rushed him to Merka hospital where he died after a few minutes," the source said.
A WFP spokesman in Nairobi later confirmed that a senior assistant working for the programme had been killed in Merka, but did not name him.
The attack came hours after mortar duels in the capital killed at least 14 people and wounded dozens more.
Residents said Islamist insurgents fired artillery at a base in the city's K4 area used by Ugandan peacekeepers serving with a small African Union mission.
That prompted an exchange of mortar shells and heavy machine-gun fire that lasted for several hours.
"They attacked our defence position at K4 and we chased them ... There are no casualties from our side," said a spokesman for the AU force, AMISOM.
The peacekeepers have been targeted in a string of bombings and ambushes since the Islamists launched their rebellion early last year.
The fighting has killed nearly 10,000 civilians, and eight AU soldiers -- seven Ugandans and one Burundian. More than a million people have been displaced.
Hussein Aden, a grocer at Mogadishu's main Bakara Market, said he saw eight mutilated bodies after three mortar bombs detonated nearby.
"The first one landed in front of a shop killing four people and wounding four others who were busy buying vegetables," he said.
Another blew up four children when it dropped in front of their house, he said.
Hospital sources said six out of at least 35 civilians who were injured in the clashes later died.
Ethiopian soldiers are also in Somalia supporting its U.N.-backed interim government which has struggled to impose control in the face of the Iraq-style insurgency by the rebels.
On Thursday Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said the time for his forces to leave was fast approaching, but the soldiers would stay until all 8,000 of the planned AU peacekeepers were fully deployed.
There are currently about 3,000 troops from Uganda and Burundi operating in Mogadishu.
(Writing by Daniel Wallis; Editing by Jon Boyle)
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