Somali Government Appeals for Help as Islamists Advance
A mortar attack on Somalia’s presidential palace killed four Ugandan African Union peacekeepers and wounded at least eight
Somalia’s government is urgently appealing for more help as insurgents threaten to seize full control of the capital, Mogadishu.
The appeal Monday came on the eighth straight day of fighting since militant group al-Shabab launched an offensive aimed at toppling the government.
A mortar attack on Somalia’s presidential palace killed four Ugandan African Union peacekeepers and wounded at least eight. Fighting elsewhere in the city killed six other people.
In a statement Monday, Somali President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed called for “urgent international support.” He said Somalia alone can not contain what he called the “evil al-Qaida al-Shabab alliance.”
The African Union already has about 6,000 troops in Mogadishu helping the government, and has promised to send more.
Sources in Mogadishu tell VOA that nearly a thousand foreign fighters are fighting alongside al-Shabab.
The militant group is trying to seize the Muka-Mukarama, a key road that links government-held positions. Witnesses say al-Shabab took control of the road for a brief time on Saturday.
Last week, the United States, Norway and five international entities, including the Arab League and European Union, issued a statement of support for the government.
The statement said the insurgents will not succeed, but did not promise any new military or financial help for the beleaguered government.
President Sharif’s administration controls only a few parts of Mogadishu, while al-Shabab and another Islamist group, Hizbul Islam control large parts of the capital and southern Somalia.
The insurgents have vowed to topple the government and establish an Islamic state in Somalia. The groups have already imposed a harshly conservative form of sharia, or Islamic law, in the areas under their control.