Somali rebel grenade strikes kill two in capital
By Feisal Omar and Abdi Sheikh
MOGADISHU (Reuters) - Somalia's al Qaeda-linked rebels killed at least two people in a series of grenade attacks late on Tuesday in Mogadishu, and warned they would step up assaults in the capital.
The strikes highlighted the ease at which al Shabaab militants are able to infiltrate the heart of the coastal city, which is meant to be under the control of government soldiers and an African Union force (AMISOM).
"A grenade was hurled at the busy Howlwadag road last night, killing two people and injuring nine others, including soldiers," said ambulance coordinator Ali Musa, referring to the attack on a street through the city's main Bakara Market.
Al Shabaab claimed to have killed 15 government soldiers in four separate attacks. Twelve were killed as they patrolled the Howlwadag road, the rebels said. Other targets included the house of a former justice minister and a prominent local elder.
In a chilling warning, the militants, who are bracing for battle with Kenyan forces in southern Somalia, said Tuesday's grenades were "just an introduction."
"We are planning more serious attacks inside the capital, Mogadishu," Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, an al Shabaab spokesman told Reuters on Wednesday.
The militants pulled most of their fighters out of Mogadishu, epicentre of their almost five-year insurgency, in August amid reports of internal divisions and funding shortages.
Since then, the AMISOM peacekeeping force and government forces have been flushing remnant insurgent fighters from capital's outlying districts. Continued...