Somali Islamist insurgents have killed two African Union peacekeepers in fighting in the capital, Mogadishu, said a spokesman for the AU peacekeeping force.
This month’s coordinated bomb attacks on the Ugandan capital Kampala, which were claimed by Somali rebels, have thrust the Somali conflict and the peacekeepers’ mandate to the top of the agenda at AU’s summit now being held in Uganda.
“We lost two soldiers and about three others were injured in Bondere district on Wednesday,” spokesman Barigye Ba-Hoku told Reuters.
The nationalities of the deceased peacekeepers were not immediately clear.
AU-backed Somali troops have been fighting the militants to regain control of suburbs of the war-scarred capital.
“In this month alone, AMISOM (the peacekeepiong force) has moved to 3 new bases in Mogadishu, Bondhere base and Oruba and Jubba bases,” Ba-Hoku said.
“We continue to advance and provide more security to the people of Mogadishu. Nothing is going to deter us from achieving peace for Somalia’s people,” he added.
In the wake of the Uganda bomb blasts, Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni called for the AU peacekeepers to be handed a stronger peace enforcement mandate. Such a move would allow the more than 6,000 troops to take the fight to the rebels.
Regional powers ultimately want 20,000 AU and United Nation peacekeepers deployed in Somalia, but most AU members have been reluctant to commit troops.
The al Qaeda-inspired al Shabaab movement said the Uganda attacks were in retaliation for the east African nation’s peacekeeper contribution. Both Uganda and Burundi, which also has peacekeepers in Somali, have said they will not withdraw their troops despite Islamist threats of further attacks.