AU condems attack in Somalia

Daily Monitor The African Union condemned an attack by Somali militant group, al Shabaab, on a hotel in Mogadishu that left 32 people dead. Reports from Mogadishu said the dead included six members of the Somali parliament, five government officials and 21 civilians.

The Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission for Somalia, Mr Boubacar Gaoussou Diarra, in reference to the Ramadhan season, bemoaned the fact that the group had attacked the hotel in defiance of one of the key pillars of the Islamic faith that they claim to profess.

“It is sad to learn that armed opposition groups do not see the wisdom of giving peace a chance in their country,” said Ambassador Diarra. “Today’s attack on innocent civilians clearly demonstrates the cowardly and barbaric mindset of those opposed to the peace process and cannot be condoned. I, on behalf of the African Union, would like to call upon all warring parties in the Somali conflict to stop such barbaric attacks on innocent civilian population.”

No soldiers belonging to the African Union peacekeeping force – to which Uganda has contributed soldiers – were killed in the attack that came on the second day of heavy fighting between al Shabaab and troops of the transitional government, who are backed by the AU.

The spokesman for the AU peacekeepers, Maj. Ba-hoku Barigye, yesterday told the BBC that an 11-year-old shoe-shine boy and a woman selling tea in front of the hotel were among the dead. Reports say the al Shabaab fighters entered the hotel disguised as government soldiers, opened fire on the guard and then one of them blew himself up inside the building.

The attack is the second most daring raid on premises housing AU forces or the Somali government. Late last year, al Shabaab fighters drove a truck disguised as a UN vehicle into an AU compound and blew it up, killing the then deputy force commander, Maj. Gen. Juvenal Niyonguruza.

The latest incident comes nearly two months since al Shabaab claimed responsibility for twin bombings in Kampala that killed 76 people who were watching the 2010 World Cup final in Kabalagala and the Kyadondo Rugby Grounds.

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