PEEK

U.S. Congressman Fired on in Somalia

A plane carrying Rep. Donald Payne (D-N.J.) out of Mogadishu, Somalia, on Monday came under mortar fire from insurgents.

Rep. Donald Payne (D-N.J.) flew into Mogadishu, Somalia, today, as part of a new international effort to explore responses to the growing problem of piracy off the country's coast. It was the first visit of U.S. politician to Somalia in several years.

It wasn't long before there was a life-threatening situation.

A plane carrying Rep. Donald Payne (D-N.J.) out of Mogadishu, Somalia, on Monday came under mortar fire from insurgents.

The congressman, who sits on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and is chairman of the Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health, was uninjured and his plane flew out to Nairobi, Kenya, spokeswoman Kerry McKenney told Fox News on Monday morning.

McKenney said Payne was not traveling with any other members and was accompanied by six bodyguards in Somalia.

As crazy as this may sound, "rampant" mortar fire is apparently rather common in Somalia, so there was some question at first as to whether this mortar fire was an attempt on Payne's life, or part of the routine shelling common in the country. An African Union official sought to clarify matters, telling Agence France Presse that "the attack was aimed at the congressman."

Given that Somalia barely exists as a nation-state, we expect to hear more stories like this.

Steve Benen is "blogger in chief" of the popular Washington Monthly online blog, Political Animal. His background includes publishing The Carpetbagger Report, and writing for a variety of publications, including Talking Points Memo, The American Prospect, the Huffington Post, and The Guardian. He has also appeared on NPR's "Talk of the Nation," MSNBC's "Rachel Maddow Show," Air America Radio's "Sam Seder Show," and XM Radio's "POTUS '08."
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