- Ugandan Defense Minister Dr Crispus Kiyonga and the African Union forces have refuted allegations by Somali government that the AU peacekeepers killed more than 30 civilians in Somali's capital Mogadishu.
The Deputy Mayor of Mogadishu, Abdifatah Ibrahim, said Ugandan soldiers who are part of an African Union peacekeeping mission, AMISOM fired into a crowd on Monday on a packed road in the Somali capital.
Local reports said the alleged shooting came after a roadside bomb targeting the peacekeepers exploded, killing three civilians and injuring a Ugandan soldier.
"I am sure we have carried 16 dead people and others injured so far. We have counted 23 dead people and 16 other dead civilians were transported before I reached the scene," said Ali Muse, manager of an ambulance service.
However, Uganda's Major Ba-Hoku Barigye, who is also the AMISOM spokesman, said last evening that the civilians were killed by gunfire from insurgents, further saying the figure of the casualties was exaggerated.
Six Ugandans peacekeepers have in the past been killed by insurgents and the latest incident is likely to increase tensions and confrontations between the peacekeepers and Islamic extremist groups that have battled for years to take control the lawless country.
Militants have targeted AU forces since the first Ugandan contingent deployed in the country in March 2007.
Somalia elected moderate Islamist Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed as president so as to stabilise the country. However, Islamists, who have rejected the government, continue to carry out attacks.
Mr Ahmed was elected as part of a UN-brokered plan to try and form a unity government and bring peace to Somalia for the first time since 1991.
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