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Somalia: Al Shabaab rebels ambush presidential convoy

Somalia's Al Shabaab rebels ambushed the convoy carrying President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed.

Somalia al shabaab attacks somalia president convoy may 2012Enlarge
A fighter allied with the Federal Government of Somalia is pictured in Burgabo, Southern Somalia on December 14, 2011. The Somali president's convoy was ambushed by Al Shabaab rebels on May 29, 2012, but President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed escaped unharmed. (CARL DE SOUZA/AFP/Getty Images)

Al Shabaab rebels ambushed a convoy carrying Somali President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed on Tuesday, according to Reuters.

Ahmed was unharmed in the attack which happened during a rare trip outside the capital, near the outskirts of Elasha, between Mogadishu and the former rebel stronghold of Afgoye which was taken by African Union forces on May 25.

Lt. Col. Paddy Ankunda, spokesman for the African Union force in Somalia, said the attack was repelled and the president returned to Mogadishu safely, according to the Associated Press.

Voice of America reported that gunmen opened fire on Ahmed's convoy, wounding five of the president's bodyguards and one unidentified Somali official.

More on GlobalPost: Somalia: African Union forces take key town of Afgoye

According to Reuters, the fire fight lasted about half an hour and the vehicle carrying Ahmed sped off as soon as the fighting began.

Al Shabaab, which affiliated itself with Al Qaeda earlier this year, lost Afgoye to African Union, Somali, Kenyan and Ethiopian forces and has been steadily losing ground in southern and central Somalia, said Voice of America.

Regaining control of Afgoye provides the government with an aid corridor linking the town which is believed to hold over 400,000 people displaced by the conflict, Reuters reported.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/africa/120529/somalia-al-shabaab-rebels-ambush-presidential-convoy