Ugandan peacekeeper killed in Somalia

A roadside bomb killed a Ugandan soldier in Somalia’s capital on Tuesday and masked gunmen murdered a man...

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A roadside bomb killed a Ugandan soldier in <?xml:namespace prefix="st1" ns="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags"?><country-region w:st="on"><place w:st="on">Somalia</country-region>’s capital on Tuesday and masked gunmen murdered a man working for the United Nation’s World Food Programme in the Horn of Africa nation.<?xml:namespace prefix="o" ns="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office"?>

The killings come as Ethiopian troops, who have been propping up an interim government and fighting Islamist insurgents for the past two years, were pulling out of <country-region w:st="on"><place w:st="on">Somalia</country-region>.

The withdrawal has fuelled fears of a power vacuum in a country where violence and chaos onshore have allowed piracy to flourish off <country-region w:st="on"><place w:st="on">Somalia</country-region>’s coast.

More than 16 000 civilians had been killed since the insurgency started two years ago, a million Somalis had been displaced and a third of the population relied on food aid.

The African Union’s top diplomat, Jean Ping, said he was concerned about the precarious security situation and urged the United Nations Security Council to approve support urgently so an African peace-keeping force in <country-region w:st="on"><place w:st="on">Somalia</country-region> can be bolstered.

The African Union wanted to deploy some 2 500 troops from <country-region w:st="on">Uganda</country-region>, <country-region w:st="on">Burundi</country-region> and <country-region w:st="on"><place w:st="on">Nigeria</country-region> to replace the Ethiopian soldiers but financial and logistical hitches have delayed the plan.

"The commission is making every effort to ensure that the additional battalions from <country-region w:st="on">Uganda</country-region> and <country-region w:st="on"><place w:st="on">Burundi</country-region> are deployed as soon as possible," said Ping.