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African Union denies Mogadishu massacre

The African Union has rejected claims that 70 bodies displayed by Somalia's Islamist group al-Shabaab belonged to its troops.

Somalia au peacekeepers killed 10 20 2011Enlarge
A screengrab from Somali-language website www.radioalfurqaan.com shows what militant group Al Shabaab says are the bodies of African Union peacekeepers, killed in Mogadishu. (Screengrab)

The African Union (AU) has denied that 70 bodies displayed by Somalia's al-Qaeda-linked Islamist group al-Shabaab belonged to its troops.

Al Shabaab on Thursday claims to have killed dozens of AU Burundian peacekeepers in the capital, Mogadishu.

The BBC reported that an AU spokesman dismissed the claim as “propaganda” and said that 10 of its soldiers had been killed, with a further two missing after intense fighting.

Read more on GlobalPost: Somalia's Al Shabaab militants claim to have killed dozens of African Union peacekeepers

Spokesman Lt. Col. Paddy Ankunda said the casualties occurred when AU soldiers took the last neighborhood held by Somali insurgents, the Associated Press reported.

Witnesses said that al-Shabab had displayed more than 60 bodies, with the group's spokesman, Sheik Ali Mohamud Rage, claiming 70 AU soldiers had been killed.

Photos posted on a Somali-language news website showed lines of at least 20 bodies dressed in military uniform, and surrounded by crowds.

But the BBC cited an AU spokesman who said al-Shabaab had dressed up their own dead troops in the uniforms.

The AU mission in Somalia, AMISOM, includes 9,000 troops, which were deployed to reinforce the country's Transitional Federal Government.

They have been active in Somalia since 2007, with approval of the United Nations, and are mainly from Burundi and Uganda, majority Christian countries.

According to the BBC, "in the past, the AU has been reluctant to admit to heavy losses."

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/africa/111021/au-denies-al-shabaab-claims-70-dead-somalia