Peacekeepers fire shots in four different incidents



MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP)—U.S. soldiers fired at an armed group that approached their base Monday, and U.N. troops fired warning shots in three other skirmishes as a nine-day lull in fighting appeared to fray.

There were no signs the incidents were related. Isolated grenade, mortar and gunfire attacks over the past week or so have been tied to clans fighting in Mogadishu and have not appeared aimed at the multinational peacekeeping force.

This port on the Indian Ocean had been at its quietest in four years since militiamen of warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid shot down two helicopters in a battle that killed 18 American soldiers Oct. 3. Aidid spokesmen said more than 300 Somalis died.

Outrage in the United States over the toll persuaded President Clinton to choose diplomacy over military force. Aidid called a cease-fire last week and released an American pilot and a Nigerian peacekeeper he was holding hostage.

A U.N. spokeswoman, Capt. Dawn Kilpatrick, said no one was injured when American troops opened fire as 10 armed Somalis approached their ‘‘Sword Base’‘ in southwestern Mogadishu.

‘‘They fired warning shots, and the Somalis … all fled,’‘ she said.

But journalists said up to four Somali men who appeared to have been wounded in the incident were being treated at Benadir Hospital.

Kilpatrick said she had no reports of casualties.

Monday morning, Turkish soldiers guarding an entrance to the U.N. compound in southern Mogadishu fired into the air when people started throwing stones at them, she said. The crowd dispersed and there were no casualties.

Earlier in the day, a Somali tried to sneak into the U.N. compound through barbed wire. He fled when peacekeepers fired over his head, Kilpatrick said. Soon after, another Somali tried to sneak in at another part of the compound, with the same result.

Kilpatrick said a mortar round fired from near the southern neighborhood of Medina exploded Sunday night near the national stadium. No U.N. troops were in the area and there was no word on casualties, she said.

The peacekeeping force stopped ground patrols and cordon-and-search exercises to round up weapons after a land mine was discovered last month on the main 21 October Road at the perimeter of the city.

Military convoys in Aidid-controlled southern Mogadishu have been limited to essential missions since Oct. 3.

Instead, the United Nations has stepped up aerial surveillance by U.S. helicopters equipped with radar and night-vision devices.

A group of U.S. reporters based with U.S. military personnel in Mogadishu was dissolved over the weekend. The group, which shared information in a pool-type arrangement, benefited from the security afforded by U.N. forces but was limited by military regulations in its access to American soldiers. Members of the group, which included The Associated Press, are now reporting independently from Mogadishu.

Only one peacekeeper has been killed since Aidid announced the cease-fire, a Greek killed when bandits attacked an aid convoy outside Baidoa in central Somalia. Aidid’s power is mostly confined to southern Mogadishu.

The increase in attempted attacks in the capital might be linked to Aidid’s displeasure over the United Nation not releasing some 70 detainees, including his four top aides.

Though Clinton, Aidid and the United Nations said no deal was struck for the release of the two peacekeepers last week, Aidid’s followers expected a reciprocal gesture.