Mortars Slam Into Mogadishu Airport

Tuesday, March 6th 2007, 6:42 am
By: News On 6

MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) _ Mortars slammed into Mogadishu's airport Tuesday during a ceremony welcoming the arrival of peacekeepers. There was no immediate sign of casualties.

An Associated Press reporter said gunmen launched eight mortars, but only two struck the airport. Officials immediately fled the scene.

``No comment,'' Salad Ali Jelle, deputy defense minister, told The Associated Press. ``We have to investigate first.''

A policeman who was at the scene said one person was wounded.

The attack came as Ugandan peacekeepers arrived in Somalia's capital to provide protection for the still-struggling transitional government and to allow for the withdrawal of Ethiopian troops who helped topple an Islamic militia.

Two cargo aircraft carrying soldiers and armored vehicles touched down at Mogadishu's main airport in the center of the city early Tuesday and were welcomed by top government officials.

Paddy Akunda, the Ugandan forces' spokesman, said 400 troops were on the ground so far in Mogadishu, with the remaining 1,100 expected in the next 24 hours.

The Ugandan troops are the vanguard of a larger African Union force authorized by the United Nations to help the government assert its authority. Ethiopian troops entered Somalia in late December, when the Islamic movement threatened to attack the government.

Insurgents, believed to be the remnants of the Islamic movement, have staged almost daily attacks against people associated with the government, its armed forces or the Ethiopian military.