Two civilians die in land mine attack targeting Somali government official in capital, says official (Somalia)
Two civilians were killed and another injured in a land mine attack targeting a convoy carrying Somali government officials in the restive capital Thursday, said an official and witnesses.
The convoy was traveling through south Mogadishu when a car carrying the commander of prisons, Abdullahi Ma'alim, ran over a land mine that was apparently set off by remote control, said Mohamed Osman Dagahtur, the capital's deputy mayor for security affairs.
"Abdullahi Ma'alim escaped the blast but his car was slightly damaged," said Dagahtur. "Two civilians lost their lives and another was injured."
Aweys Mohamed Hassan, who went to the scene minutes after the blast, said he had seen two bodies being loaded onto a police truck but did not know if the police suffered casualties.
Dagahtur said police arrested two suspects immediately after the blast and were interrogating them.
With the crucial aid of troops from neighboring Ethiopia, Somali forces ousted a militant Islamic group known as the Council of Islamic Courts over the New Year. The Islamic group then launched an insurgency, and the capital was endured weeks of artillery battles and shelling between the warring sides.
The government declared victory in late April, and the capital has been relatively quiet since. But fears the calm will not endure have been fanned by a series of land mine and grenade attacks in recent days.
Somalia has been mired in chaos since 1991, when warlords overthrew dictator Mohamed Siad Barre and then turned against each other. The current government was established in 2004, but has failed to assert full control.
While the capital has been the center of the recent violence, other parts of Somalia have also suffered instability. In Puntland, one Kenyan and one British aid worker consulting for Care International were kidnapped Wednesday, a CARE official said Thursday.
Beatrice Spadacini, spokeswoman for CARE International's regional office in the Kenyan capital, said the two were seized in the relatively peaceful northeastern region of Somalia. She said it wasn't immediately clear who had seized them or what the motives were, but said the organization was confident the situation would be resolved quickly through talks with local authorities and clan elders.
The two, whose names were not released, were assessing a project for the organization, Spadacini said.
Semiautonomous Puntland has escaped much of the violence that has plagued southern Somalia, but banditry and piracy are a problem in the region.
Von: Associated Press http://www.iht.com 10.05.2007