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Fighting in Mogadishu Leads to Appeal for Countries to Keep Their Promise to Help Somalia

A support plane for the African peacekeeping force in Somalia crashes near Mogadishu; officials say it was shot down. Transcript of radio broadcast:

This is IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English.

A plane carrying eleven people aiding the African Union peacekeeping force in Somalia crashed Friday near the capital, Mogadishu. Officials say it was shot down by a missile shortly after takeoff from the airport.

The apparent attack followed two days of intense fighting in Mogadishu between resistance fighters and Somali government forces and their Ethiopian allies. The fighting eased on Friday after one group of fighters said it had reached a ceasefire with Ethiopian forces.

Earlier this week, the commander of the African Union peacekeeping force in Somalia urged several African countries to speed up their promised deployment of troops to help secure Mogadishu.

On Wednesday, resistance fighters pulled the bodies of two pro-government soldiers through the streets of Mogadishu and burned them. At least twenty-five people have been killed in the fighting. Hundreds of people have been injured. Hundreds of others have fled their homes to escape the violence.

The spokesman for the African Union peacekeeping force says the violence in Mogadishu is becoming more deadly and better organized. However, he also said the violence should not stop other nations from honoring their promise to send troops.

The African Union peacekeeping force in Somalia currently includes fewer than two thousand Ugandan soldiers. Resistance fighters have attacked the Ugandan troops daily since their arrival in Mogadishu earlier this month.

Burundi has offered to send one thousand seven hundred troops. However, the nation says it does not have enough equipment for the force. Nigeria, Malawi and Ghana have also said they would send troops, but they have not yet provided a plan for deployment.

Even if all four countries sent peacekeepers, the force would still be far from reaching its goal of deploying eight thousand African troops in Somalia. The troops are needed to protect the country's temporary government. They are also needed to train Somali security forces and bring back order to the area.

Civil war in Somalia began in nineteen ninety-one. Since then, militias loyal to different groups have controlled parts of the country. There has been no central government to provide law and order or even basic services to the population.

Somalia's temporary government was formed in Kenya more than two years ago after an internationally led peace process. Ethiopia sent troops to Somalia in December to help the temporary government push an opposition Islamist movement from power. The Somali government has since struggled to control resistance violence in the capital.

The Somali government recently announced that it will hold a conference next month to bring warring groups together for peace talks.

And that's IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English, written by Brianna Blake. You can download transcripts and audio from our Web site, I’m Steve Ember.