Beledweyne, 18 June 2009 – Somalia’s Security Minister Omar Hashi Aden has been killed in a suicide car bomb attack north of the capital Mogadishu, witnesses and officials say.
Somali diplomats were also reportedly among at least 10 people killed in the blast at a hotel in Beledweyne.
Somali President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed blamed al-Shabab, which later claimed the attack. The guerrilla group has been accused of links to al-Qaeda.
On Wednesday, at least 10 people died when a mortar hit a Mogadishu mosque.
In Thursday’s attack, witnesses said a suicide bomber detonated an explosives-laden vehicle at the Medina Hotel in Beledweyne, some 400km (249 miles) north of Mogadishu.
Most of the victims were burnt beyond recognition after the explosion, a local medic was quoted as saying by the Associated Press news agency.
Abdulkarim Ibrahim Lakanyo, a former Somali ambassador to Ethiopia, was reportedly among those killed in the blast.
Mr Aden had recently moved to Beledweyne, a town close to the Ethiopian border, in an effort to stop Islamist insurgents gaining more ground in Somalia, the BBC’s Will Ross in Nairobi says.
Somalia has not had an effective national government since 1991 and some four million people – one-third of the population – need food aid, aid agencies say.
Al-Shabab belongs to a force of radical Islamic militants, which has been trying to topple the fragile UN-backed government for three years.
President Ahmed, a moderate Islamist, took office in Somalia in January but even his introduction of Sharia law to the strongly Muslim country has not appeased the guerrillas.
On Wednesday, Mogadishu’s police commander was killed during an attack on insurgent bases.
And the UN refugee agency’s representative to Somalia said the recent bloodletting in the failed Horn of African state was the “worst ever” in nearly two decades of chaos.
Source: BBC news