Somalia peacekeepers seize weapons during raid in capital
MOGADISHU, Somalia -- African peacekeepers acting on a tip from a former insurgent in Somalia seized weapons hidden in houses in the southern part of the troubled capital yesterday , an official said.
The weapons, which were buried, included 106 anti-tank mines, 48 rocket-propelled grenades, 460 hand grenades, and other small arms, said Paddy Ankunda, spokesman for the Ugandan troops acting as peacekeepers in Mogadishu.
"Our troops have found and seized huge number of weapons buried under the ground, following civilian information passed to them," Ankunda said.
The African Union peacekeepers started to patrol the streets of Mogadishu earlier this month after having been largely confined to their stations at the airport as the city endured some of the worst fighting in 15 years. In late April, the government and its Ethiopian backers launched a crackdown that saw hundreds killed and ended with the government declaring victory over an Islamic insurgency.
Ankunda said a former insurgent passed the information to the African peacekeepers, who then sought the assistance of the government troops and their Ethiopian backers. Uganda has about 1,400 troops in Somalia as the vanguard of a larger African Union peacekeeping force.
So far, Uganda is the only country to contribute to the peacekeeping force. The peacekeepers were met with a surge of violence when they began deploying in Somalia's capital in March, and had initially kept a low profile.
Witnesses said Ugandan troops backed by Somali and Ethiopian forces conducted search operations in the south of the city, where most of the fighting between Islamic insurgents and Ethiopian and Somali troops was concentrated. Ankunda said 150 peacekeepers armed with 16 armored military vehicles participated in the operation.
"The troops have cordoned off the entire area," said resident Mohamed Idle Ibrahim.