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AU refutes al-Shabaab claim of killing Ugandan soldiers in Somalia

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- The African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia AMISOM on Saturday denied Al-Shabaab claims that its militants killed five Ugandan soldiers in a roadside bomb attack on Friday.

AMISOM however confirmed the attack on its troops near Afgoye town, about 30 km south of Mogadishu, but did not mention if there were casualties.

The AU mission that has stepped up its onslaught against the al-Qaida allied militants dismissed claims as false.

"Al-Shabaab targeted our convoy traveling about 9 km from Afgoye on the road to Ceel Jaale in an improvised explosive device (IED) attack," the mission said in a statement.

It said the Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team has safely removed and destroyed two IEDs in the past two days.

"AMISOM and Somalia National Army will continue to ensure clearance of the main supply routes for easy access of humanitarian activities," it said.

The extremist militants had claimed to have killed five Ugandan soldiers in a roadside bomb attack in Afgoye on Friday afternoon.

Aid agencies say the poor state of main supply routes in south-central Somalia had provided conditions for Al-Shabaab to continue laying ambushes and using explosive devices against AMISOM convoys and Somali national security forces.


UN decries plight of pregnant women as famine looms in Somalia

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- The United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA) on Friday expressed concern about the fate of 607,000 pregnant women across Somalia who need maternal health services to ensure a safe pregnancy and delivery amid severe drought.

UNFPA’s Chief of Humanitarian and Fragile Contexts Branch, Ugochi Daniels said of the 6.2 million people affected by the drought ravaging Somalia, more than 1.5 million are women of childbearing age.

Daniels, who visited drought-affected areas in Somalia this week called for an equally immense response to provide direct medical services and support to the pregnant women in the Horn of Aftica nation.

"I was struck by the fact that the face of displacement is a woman with her child.

"The men have stayed behind to tend their farms and livestock while it is the women who have made the arduous and risky trek often for many days to get some relief," she said in a statement issued in Mogadishu.

UNFPA is scaling up its emergency response to help more than 130,000 pregnant women who may require urgent care.

Somalia already has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world, with over nearly 1 of every 22 mothers dying from pregnancy related causes.

Over 350,000 Somalis are refugees and a further 400,000 are internally displaced.

UNFPA is appealing to international donors for funding of 24 million U.S. dollars for the Somalia humanitarian response for reproductive health and to protect women and girls from gender-based violence (GBV).

"The toll of displacement, drought, and the lack of services on women and girls is immense," said Daniels.

UNFPA provides life-saving reproductive health services across Somalia including referral of complicated cases during pregnancy and delivery, emergency reproductive health kits and medical and psychosocial support to survivors of gender-based violence.




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