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11 peacekeepers killed in Somalia

MOGADISHU, Somalia, Feb. 22 (UPI) -- Twin explosions Sunday killed 11 Burundian troops at a compound used by African Union peacekeepers in Mogadishu, Somalia, authorities said.

Shabelle Media Network reported al-Shabaab, an Islamic extremist group with ties to al-Qaida, claimed responsibility for the attack. Al-Shabaab spokesman, Sheik Mukhtar Robow Abu Mansoor, said one of their fighters detonated a jacket laden with explosives inside the Burundian base and another suicide bomber exploded his car.

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In addition to the 11 Burundian soldiers killed, 15 more were wounded, the Los Angeles Times said. The newspaper reported that Mansoor, speaking to reporters by telephone, said, "Go home, otherwise you will meet our hell."

AU and United Nations officials condemned the attack.

"They are trying to destabilize the situation and take away attention from the good news," said Susannah Price, a spokeswoman for the U.N. special representative to Somalia.

AU officials initially said the attack wasn't carried out by suicide bombers but by mortars fired into the compound. Mansoor called them "martyrdom operations" carried out by "Mujahedeens," or holy fighters, China's state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

It was the second suicide attack in Mogadishu this month. A bomber killed 20 civilians Feb. 2 when the attacker apparently missed the intended target, Shabelle reported.

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The Burundian troops are part of a 3,500-member peacekeeping contingent in Mogadishu, Somaliweyn reported. The attack came a day after the Somali government swore in 34 new ministers, the news center said.

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