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Page last updated at 11:31 GMT, Monday, 15 September 2008 12:31 UK

AU peacekeeper killed in Somalia

Ugandan peacekeepers preparing to go to Somalia
Most of the AU peacekeepers in Somalia are from Uganda

An African Union peacekeeper from Uganda has died in an attack in the Somali capital, Mogadishu - the second to be killed in as many days.

Two peacekeepers were injured in the attack, in which a roadside bomb hidden under a pile of rubbish hit a group of soldiers, an AU spokesman said.

On Sunday, another Ugandan peacekeeper was killed and two wounded in an earlier attack in the capital.

Islamists from the al-Shabab group claimed responsibility on Sunday.

The BBC's Mohamed Olad Hassan in Mogadishu says it was the latest in a series of attacks by the strengthening insurgency during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

"It is sad news for us to lose two of our colleagues in 24 hours, but this would never fulfil the aim of the attackers," said AU spokesman Barigye Bahoku.

Airport threat

Some 1,800 Ugandan troops form the bulk of the AU forces in Somalia, helping to guard key buildings and the Mogadishu port, where food aid is unloaded.

Al-Shabab is the strongest and best organised group among the insurgents.

Over the weekend, the group threatened to stop planes using Mogadishu's main airport as of Tuesday.

The group described the airport, which is used for official and commercial flights, as a tool of Ethiopia's "occupation" of Somalia.

But Mr Bahoku said any such move would hurt Somali civilians, including those who needed medicine or needed to leave because of illness.

Somalia has been wracked by conflict since 1991, when former President Mohamed Siad Barre was ousted.

In December 2006, Ethiopian troops helped topple Islamist forces who had taken control of much of southern Somalia earlier that year.

The Islamists then launched an insurgency against Somalia's transitional government.



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