Somalia: Islamist attack claims lives of top Somali officials

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Somalia’s Security Minister, Omar Hashi Aden and former Somali ambassador to Ethiopia, Abdulkarim Ibrahim Lakanyo, amongst other Somali delegates have been killed in a car bomb in Somalia. On Wednesday, a mortar hit a mosque in Mogadishu, killing at least ten people while another rebel attack claimed the life of Mogadishu police chief. Al-Qaeda linked al-Shabab militia have claimed responsibility for the attacks as they attempt to overthrow the fragile UN-backed government of Somalia.

Mr. Aden along with other Somali delegates were on a peace seeking mission with the Islamist militiamen in a town close to the Ethiopian border, when the alleged suicide car bomb exploded. Guillermo Bettocchi, UN refugee agency’s representative to Somalia, has said that Wednesday and Thursday’s attacks in the country were the worst in the country’s 20 years of anarchy.

Somali Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke has urged the international community to help before it is too late. The UN refugee agency says more than 100,000 people have been forced out of their homes since May and half-a-million internally displaced people now languish on the outskirts of Mogadishu and some four million Somalis are in dire need of medical and food aid.

Pro-government forces have been involved in bloody battles with radical Islamist guerrillas in Mogadishu since May. Somalia has been without an effective central government since President Siad Barre was overthrown in 1991. The Islamist insurgents are bent on taking over Somalia. Almost one million Somalis have died since 1991 as a direct cause of the wars as well as the inability to deal with famine and diseases.

Somali president and prime minister were put in place in January and February, respectively. However, experts have said that total peace cannot be obtained overnight after two decades of violence. “In May, Islamist guerrillas tried to take power by force (…) they have not been able to do it. That is why they have resorted to suicide bombs and killing, there is nothing any country can do against these kind of people,” Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the UN special representative for Somalia was quoted as saying.

Somali President, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed has said that the country is invaded by terrorists who do not allow for the existence of the Somali national flag, its sovereignty and any peace to this country. “This group is hiding under the cloth of Islam. You know that a lot of foreigners are pouring into the country day by day to join the insurgents,” he added.

Comprised of a former British protectorate and an Italian colony, Somalia was created when the two territories were amalgamated in 1960. Since then its development has been slow. Relations with neighbors have been soured by its territorial claims on Somali-inhabited areas of Ethiopia, Kenya and Djibouti.

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