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Somali interior minister killed in suicide attack

Somalia's interior minister, Abdishakur Sheikh Hassan (centre), died on Friday in hospital following a suicide attack, apparently carried out by a woman, at his home in Mogadishu, security officials said.


AFP - Somali Interior Minister Abdishakur Sheikh Hassan was killed Friday in a suicide attack at his home, apparently carried out by a woman, senior security officials told AFP.

"The minister died in hospital," Adan Mohamed said. "The information we have so far indicates that a young woman, the minister's niece, carried out the attack."

The statement was confirmed by other security sources, who said the woman had stayed at the minister's Mogadishu home for the last three days.

"The minister passed away and was killed in a terrorist attack," Information Minister Adulkarim Jama told Radio Mogadishu.

A number of other people were also wounded in the explosion which happened as the minister hosted a meeting with other colleagues, said a second official, Ibrahim Siyad.

The suicide attack was the third in Mogadishu in less than two weeks, all claimed by Somalia's Islamist Shebab rebels, who are engaged in a protracted battle with the country's weak, western-backed government for control of the Horn of Africa nation.

"The leader of the Shebab declared on the Islamic radio station Alfurqan that they were the perpetrators of the attack that killed the interior minister," the station announced.

The Shebab are currently facing an unprecedented offensive launched the by the transitional government and backed by the African Union peacekeeping mission in Mogadishu (AMISOM).

Soldier were immediately deployed to reenforce the areas of Mogadishu currently under government control in case of further attacks, residents said.

On Thursday, one civilian was killed at the port of Mogadishu by blasts set off by two suicide bombers.

On May 30, two Ugandan soldiers attached to AMISOM were killed on their base in the south of the city in an attack carried out by at least three people.

The Shebab have suffered serious military setbacks during the massive offensive launched in February by the government and backed by AMISOM.

Struggling to retake their lost positions through conventional warfare, the Shebab decided to boost their suicide attacks, according to security sources.

Shebab operatives and several Al-Qaeda-linked foreigners fighting in Somalia, have vowed in public statements that they will "soon avenge the death of (their) leader Osama bin Laden", killed in Pakistan on May 2 by US special forces.

The Shebab swore allegiance to Al-Qaeda in 2002.


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