Somali Islamist group Al-Shabaab claims responsibility for mortar attack on U.S. Congressman

April 14, 2009 10:16 am 

MOGADISHU, April 14 — Somali Islamist group Al- Shabaab claimed Monday that it was responsible for the mortar attack on visiting U.S. Congressman Donald Payne, according to reports from agencies.

Sheikh Hussein Ali, spokesman of the group, said that at the Mogadishu airport, they fired several mortars on the U.S. congressman who was about to leave the country after a brief visit during which he held meetings with senior Somali government officials, said reports.

At least three people were wounded after mortars landed in residential areas around the airport in the Somali capital. Security officials said Payne's plane left safely from the airport.

Payne met some Somali leaders, including President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and Prime Minister Omar Abdurashid Ali Sharmarke.

Both sides discussed security, political development and humanitarian situation in the war-torn Horn of African country where local people have been through nearly two decades of civil conflict.

Payne is the first American official to visit Mogadishu since the election of the Islamist President Shiekh Sharif Shiekh Ahmed early this year.

A hostage drama involving a U.S. captain whose ship was briefly held by Somali pirates was concluded Sunday after he was released after U.S. commandos shot three of the four pirates that took the captain hostage for nearly three days. (PNA/Xinhua) ALM/ebp

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