Al-Shabaab Claims Somalia Attack Revenge for Death of Its Leader

Al-Shabaab said its attack on an African Union military base in the Somali capital yesterday that left at least four people dead was to avenge the killing of its leader in a U.S. missile strike four months ago.

Three peacekeepers and a civilian contractor were killed when members of the Islamist-militant group infiltrated the Halane base camp in Mogadishu at lunch time on Christmas Day, the African Union Mission in Somalia said in an e-mailed statement. Five of the fighters were killed and three were captured, it said.

“You cowardly targeted our leader and this attack was pay-back for your evil deed,” al-Shabaab spokesman Sheikh Ali Mohamud Rageh said in a statement broadcast on Radio Andalus, a Mogadishu-based broadcaster.

Al-Shabaab leader Ahmed Abdi Godane was killed in a U.S. missile strike on Sept. 1. The assassination followed a series of military setbacks that the al-Qaeda-linked group has suffered since African Union-backed Somali government troops forced the militants to withdraw from Mogadishu in August 2011. Since then, the army has forced the insurgents to relinquish control of about 70 percent of southern and central Somalia, according to the presidency.

Yesterday’s attack came a day after Somalia lawmakers approved the appointment of Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke as the country’s new prime minister.

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