MOGADISHU — Fighters from Somalia's Al Qaeda-inspired Shebab group on Sunday displayed the body of a soldier believed to belong to an African force in Somalia in the streets of Mogadishu.
The rebel group claimed the dead soldier was a Ugandan who was killed during fighting late Saturday at one of the force's bases in Mogadishu. But a spokesman for the force known as AMISOM only confirmed that clashes took place.
"Our special units attacked the enemy base at Shaqalaha last night, killing several Ugandan soldiers," Shebab spokesman Sheikh Ali Mohamoud Rage told reporters in the capital.
"One of the dead bodies is here today so that all Muslims can witness the enemy loss with their own eyes," he added.
Rage said the Shebab attack on Shaqalaha was successful, claiming that insurgent fighters managed to enter the AMISOM base and seize military supplies.
Witnesses said that Shebab fighters displayed the body to a crowd near Barubah street.
"Many people gathered and stood over the dead body to see it. He was wearing a Ugandan military uniform and a helmet," Abdullahi Said told AFP.
Sumayo Abdulkadir, another witness, also said she saw the soldier's identity cards being displayed by the Shebab.
AMISOM spokesman Ba-Hoku Barigye denied the Shebab claim and said the fighting only resulted in a few minor injuries to African troops.
"There was an attack on one of our positions by the rebels as they usually do and some of our soldiers suffered minor injuries," he said.
"I tell you that we will continue our mission even if they kill a hundred of our soldiers because we are here for a reason," he added.
AMISOM, which was first deployed in March 2007, now consists of more than 7,000 troops from Uganda and Burundi whose main task is to protect Somalia's weak Western-backed transitional federal government.
Somalia has been a byword for lawlessness for two decades but the conflict grabbed the world's attention when militiamen led by warlords shot down a US Black Hawk helicopter in 1993 and dragged the bodies of American servicemen through the streets of Mogadishu.
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