From: Berhane Habtemariam (Berhane.Habtemariam@gmx.de)
Date: Thu Nov 20 2008 - 05:57:28 EST
Somalia: Insurgents Attack Presidential Compound, Ethiopia Base
Garowe Online (Garowe)
20 November 2008
Somalia's Islamist rebels attacked the presidential compound and a major base for Ethiopian troops in the capital Mogadishu, Radio Garowe reported Wednesday.
At least four people were killed and 10 others wounded during the rebel attack on Villa Somalia, the heavily-guarded presidential palace in Mogadishu's Wardhigley district.
"At least eight explosions rocked parts of Howlwadaag district and killed two people," said witness Abdi Omar.
Somali govt troops
The warring sides used machineguns during the battle, with reports of the Ethiopian army's artillery shelling hitting faraway districts.
Medina Hospital officials said 10 wounded civilians were admitted for treatment.
The rebels have not spoken publicly about the attack.
Somali army spokesman Col. Dahir Mohamed Hersi told journalists that government forces killed five insurgents, while two soldiers were wounded.
Separately, suspected insurgents sparked a 30-minute battle in north Mogadishu's Huriwa districts after targeting an Ethiopian army base, witnesses said.
There were no casualty reports available from the Wednesday afternoon fighting, but witnesses described fierce street combat and loud explosions.
Ethiopia deployed its army into south-central Somalia in 2006 to defeat the Islamic Courts Union that ruled Mogadishu and neighboring regions.
The Islamists have since regrouped, waged a bloody anti-Ethiopia insurgency and now control major towns in the southern and central regions.
Recently, Ethiopia has pledged to withdraw its troops from Somalia under a new peace deal between the Somali interim government and an opposition faction.
Islamist hardliners, including al Shabaab insurgents, have rejected the peace agreement and vowed to continue the insurgency until Islamic rule is restored.
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