SOMALIA: 16 killed after attack on Somali parliament

Published: May 16, 2010

Islamic insurgents attacked a building in the Somali capital where parliament was meeting Sunday for the first time this year, pounding the area with mortars. At least 16 civilians were killed in the fighting that ensued, a medical official said.
No lawmakers were killed or wounded in the attack, police spokesman Abdullahi Hassan Barise said. Previous sessions of parliament had been postponed since December because of threats from al-Shabab, an al-Qaida-linked militant group in the lawless Horn of Africa nation.
A number of lawmakers have fled the 550-member parliament in Mogadishu and resettled in neighboring countries because of insecurity.
Militants have killed nine legislators over the last few years for supporting the Western-backed government of Somali President Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed. The government has been unable to provide security for them because it only controls a small part of Mogadishu.
Somalia has not had an effective parliament or government for the past 19 years after warlords overthrew longtime dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991.
On Sunday, government forces backed by African Union troops fought back, pounding the insurgents’ positions with mortars.
Ali Muse, the head of Mogadishu’s ambulance service, said his staff counted 16 bodies. Another 31 wounded people were taken to hospitals around Mogadishu.

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