Da Mail & Guardian del 18/09/2006
Originale su http://www.mg.co.za/articlePage.aspx?articleid=284360

Eleven killed in Somali assassination attempt

di Hassan Yare

Baidoa, Somalia - A car bomb killed five people and wounded several others outside Parliament in Somalia's provincial capital Baidoa on Monday in an assassination attempt on President Abdullahi Yusuf.

Six attackers were killed in a gun battle with Yusuf's bodyguards after the blast, Foreign Minister Ismail Hurre Buba told a news conference in Nairobi.

"A car exploded when the president's convoy was passing on the way to his residence," Hurre told Reuters.

"It was an assassination attempt on the president."

Yusuf escaped unharmed but Hurre said five people were killed in the blast.

Hurre said the attack bore the hallmarks of al-Qaeda.

"It was characteristically an [al]-Qaeda-type attempt [with] a car being put next to other cars and an explosion taking place through remote control," he said.

He also linked Monday's violence to the murder on Sunday of an Italian nun shot in Mogadishu.

"We think that the attempt in Baidoa is associated with the assassination of the Italian nun. Whoever was behind that is behind this," he told a news conference in Nairobi.

However, Interior Minister Hussein Mohamed Farah Aideed said it was too soon to point the finger at any group.

He added that security forces arrested two of the attackers.

A Reuters reporter at the scene saw black smoke billowing from burning cars close to the Parliament building, which he said appeared to have dead bodies in them.

Government militiamen quickly cordoned off the area around the Parliament building, a converted grain warehouse in the town 240km from the capital Mogadishu.


HEIGHTEN TENSIONS

The attack is sure to heighten tensions in the volatile nation of 10-million between the internationally recognised but weak government and Islamists who control Mogadishu and a large swathe of southern Somalia.

The two sides have held two rounds of talks in the Sudanese capital Khartoum, pledging to form a joint military force.

"It will jeopardise the peace process if it becomes very obvious that the Islamists are behind this terrorist act," Hurre said, adding that the government was still prepared to meet with "moderate elements" of the Islamic courts.

"We will not be deterred from that by an incident like today's [Monday]," he said.

In July, Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi said Osama bin Laden had training bases in Somalia and was intent on plunging the country, deprived of effective central rule since 1991, into further chaos.

Islamist officials gave no immediate reaction to the bomb.

The attack took place as legislators met to approve a new Cabinet. Witnesses said the parliamentary session carried on as normal after the blast, with 174 lawmakers out of the 199 present approving the Cabinet.

Gedi had named new ministers in August after Yusuf declared the earlier Cabinet ineffective and dissolved it on August 7.

The explosion was the latest violence to flare up in the government's temporary seat of Baidoa.

In July, gunmen shot dead a Somali minister outside a Baidoa mosque, in what one senior official said was an organised killing. Last year Gedi was the target of two assassination attempts in Mogadishu and Jowhar.

Somalia descended into lawlessness in 1991 when warlords toppled military dictator Mohamed Siad Barre and the country's 14th attempt at central administration since the ousting has been stymied by infighting and the newly empowered Islamists.

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