Somali rebels bomb AU base

MOGADISHU - Two big explosions rocked an African Union peacekeeping base in the Somali capital Mogadishu yesterday, wounding several troops, witnesses said.

MOGADISHU - Two big explosions rocked an African Union peacekeeping base in the Somali capital Mogadishu yesterday, wounding several troops, witnesses said.

Two residents said the blasts appeared to have been caused by missiles, but one Somali security source said they were suicide car bombs.

Six wounded peacekeepers were carried from the scene, some bleeding heavily.

Thick black smoke rose from the scene.

Last February 11 Burundians were killed in an attack on an AU compound in Mogadishu.

Yesterday's attack came as insurgents holding a French security consultant hostage in Somalia issued demands in return for his release, including an immediate end to French support for the Horn of Africa nation's government.

The rebel ultimatum was issued three days after US special forces killed one of the continent's most wanted al Qaeda suspects in a helicopter raid on a convoy carrying foreign members of the al Shabaab rebel group in southern Somalia. The French hostage is one of two security consultants kidnapped by gunmen in Mogadishu in July. His colleague managed to escape on August 26.

In return for his release al Shabaab demanded the "immediate cessation of any political or military support to the apostate government of Somalia and the withdrawal of all its security advisers in Somalia". - Reuters

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