Somali insurgents fired mortars at a Somalia airport as a US congressman was departing, the AP reports. None of the six shells hit the airport, and New Jersey Rep. Donald Payne made it away safely—but 19 civilians were wounded when the shells landed in nearby neighborhoods, a hospital administrator said. Locals said after the attack, insurgents and African Union soldiers fired at each other, killing three people and wounding 12 more, Reuters reports.
Payne was in Somalia for talks on piracy, security, and cooperation; trips to the area are rare among US politicians, Reuters notes. Speaking earlier with Somalia’s interim leaders, Payne defended a US attack on pirates holding a US captain. “If there were no pirates, the US government would not have intervened,” he said. “Every country has a right to defend its citizens.”