Rebels target new Somali president with mortars

MOGADISHU Sat Feb 7, 2009 11:12pm IST

Sheikh Sharif Ahmed (C), former leader of the opposition Alliance for Re-Liberation of Somalia (ARS) and the new President of Somalia, speaks to the media upon his arrival in Mogadishu February 7, 2009. REUTERS/Mowliid Abdi

Sheikh Sharif Ahmed (C), former leader of the opposition Alliance for Re-Liberation of Somalia (ARS) and the new President of Somalia, speaks to the media upon his arrival in Mogadishu February 7, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Mowliid Abdi

Related Topics

MOGADISHU (Reuters) - Rebels fired mortar bombs at the presidential palace in Mogadishu on Saturday hours after Somalia's new President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed returned to the capital following his election at U.N.-led talks in Djibouti.

Ahmed has promised to build on his record of bringing security when his Islamist forces ruled much of the country, which has been racked by war for 18 years.

African Union peacekeepers said the attack was intended to provoke return fire.

"We just ignored them," Major Barigye Ba-Hoku, spokesman for the AU's small AMISOM mission in the city, told Reuters.

"They are provocative and expect us to respond but we are not ready to. They want an excuse to accuse AMISOM of attacking civilians. We never do that."

A government security officer said several mortars were fired at the hilltop Villa Somalia palace, but no one was hurt.

Abdullahi Qadar, an official working for the new president, said Ahmed had ordered government forces and the AU peacekeepers not to return fire to avoid civilian casualties.

Ahmed, a moderate, headed a sharia courts group that brought some stability to Mogadishu and most of southern Somalia in 2006, before Washington's main regional ally Ethiopia invaded to oust them. Ethiopia's military withdrew last month, clearing the way for Ahmed's election in Djibouti a week ago.

Ahmed was then feted at a Feb. 1-4 African Union summit hosted this week by Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi -- whose army drove his Islamists from power just two years ago.

He said he and Meles had agreed to work together for a better Horn of Africa and for an end to conflict in the region.

The hardline al Shabaab group, which is on Washington's list of foreign terrorist groups, said before the vote it would start a new campaign of hit-and-run attacks on the government -- whoever came to power.

(Additional reporting by Abdi Guled)

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

GAZA CRISIS

WORLD SHOWCASE

U.S. defends Kerry

U.S. defends Kerry

U.S. officials defend Kerry from Israeli criticism.  Full Article 

Treaty Violated?

Treaty Violated?

U.S. says Russia violated nuclear treaty, urges immediate talks.  Full Article 

Gaining Ground

Gaining Ground

Ukraine claims more territory as fight intensifies with rebels.  Full Article 

Unifying CalL

Unifying Call

After Iraqi army crumbles, Maliki turns to state TV for help.  Full Article 

No Counter Action

No Counter Action

Lavrov says Russia will not respond in kind to Western sanctions.  Full Article 

Virus Outbreak

Virus Outbreak

Nigeria isolates Lagos hospital where Ebola victim died.  Full Article 

Ferry Disaster

Ferry Disaster

Associate of dead S.Korea ferry boss arrested, children due to give evidence.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage