- The Washington Times - Monday, April 13, 2009

A plane carrying Rep. Donald M. Payne from a Somali airport was struck Monday morning by mortar shells.

The plane was leaving the Somali capital of Mogadishu, Payne spokeswoman Kerry McKenney told CNN.

Miss McKenney also said the plane “left safely” and no injuries have been reported.

A witness told the Associated Press that six mortars landed at the airport.

Nobody so far has claimed responsibility for the attack, so it is unclear whether it was in retaliation for the United States killing three Somali pirates Sunday who had taken hostage an America ship captain.

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Mr. Payne, New Jersey Democrat, is in Africa for a one-day visit to meet with Somalia’s president and prime minister. He was scheduled to discuss piracy, security and how Somalia and the United States can better cooperate with each other, according to the wire service. Mr. Payne is chairman of the House subcommittee on Africa and global health.

Somalia, considered one of the most unstable countries in the world, has not had an effective government for 18 years, according to the wire service.

Miss McKenney said Mr. Payne is headed to Nairobi, but she was unsure about whether the incident would change the congressman’s plans.

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