Somali rebels planning more attacks

MOGADISHU: Somalia's police warned on Thursday that radical Islamist militia were planning more suicide attacks on theAfrican Union force using explosive-laden vehicles similar to ambulances and police cars.

"We got concrete intelligence ... that the hard-line rebels are planning to stage more devastating suicide attacks against the African peacekeepers who are supporting the government," police spokesman Abdullahi Hassan Barise told reporters.

"The hardline groups have already planted explosives on vehicles like those used by the Somali policemen and ambulances as well as motorbikes in order to carry out suicide attacks," he said, adding that they were on high alert.

Last month the Al-Qaeda-inspired Shebab group carried out suicide attacks against the African Union (AU) force in Mogadishu using two UN vehicles, killing 21 people including 17 peacekeepers.

Days later, Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, the leader of the more political Hezb al-Islam militia called for more suicide attacks against peacekeepers.

The attack against the AU force comprised of some 5,000 Burundian and Ugandan troops was the worst since it deployed in the country in early 2007.

The AU envoy to Somalia Nicolas Bwakira has called for a stronger mandate for the peacekeeping force "to have power to act when and as necessary."