Somali insurgents fire mortars at president’s plane – By Abdi Sheikh, Reuters

June 2nd, 2008 Print Print Email Email

Insurgents fired mortars at a plane that was due to take Somalia’s president to Djibouti, but he was unharmed and travelled to a meeting with a U.N. security council delegation, officials and residents said on Sunday.

President Abdullahi Yusuf was due to meet the delegation in Djibouti, where his interim government and opposition exiles living in Eritrea are participating in U.N.-backed peace talks. He was not due to take part in the talks, which started a day late on Sunday.

“The president and delegates have left … The Islamists failed to achieve their goal and the mortars did not damage the plane,” presidential spokesman Hussein Mohamed Mohamud said. (more…)

Insurgents fired mortars at a plane that was due to take Somalia’s president to Djibouti, but he was unharmed and travelled to a meeting with a U.N. security council delegation, officials and residents said on Sunday.

President Abdullahi Yusuf was due to meet the delegation in Djibouti, where his interim government and opposition exiles living in Eritrea are participating in U.N.-backed peace talks. He was not due to take part in the talks, which started a day late on Sunday.

“The president and delegates have left … The Islamists failed to achieve their goal and the mortars did not damage the plane,” presidential spokesman Hussein Mohamed Mohamud said.

An airport staff member told Reuters the mortars were aimed at a plane arriving to take Yusuf to the talks in Djibouti.

“Around five mortars landed in the airport and people ran into the concrete building,” the staff member said.

Militants behind near-daily ambushes and roadside bombs targeting government troops and their Ethiopian allies are the remnants of an Islamist movement that was ousted at the start of last year.

The hardline opposition figures, including Islamist insurgent leaders in Somalia, say mediation efforts will go nowhere until Ethiopian troops backing the government leave.

U.N. officials met the government and Islamist delegations separately, witnesses in Djibouti said.

A U.N. Security Council team touring troubled spots in Africa this week plan to visit Djibouti and meet the transitional government leaders, including Yusuf.

Analysts say a meaningful peace pact looks impossible given opposition divisions and the presence of Ethiopian troops in the Horn of Africa nation, which has been without central governance since the 1991 toppling of a dictator. (Additional reporting by Omar Hassan in Djibouti, writing by Helen Nyambura-Mwaura; Editing by Elizabeth Piper) (For full Reuters Africa coverage and to have your say on the top issues, visit: http://africa.reuters.com/)

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