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Attempted Coup in Somalia makes rivalries strange bedfellows
by Amin George Forji
2006-09-24 10:23:04
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The fragile marriage between the Somalia Islamist who occupy the Southern part of Somalia including the capital, Mogadishu and the internationally-backed interim government controlling the town of Baidoa and it’s environs, has been a very difficult one. That volatile marriage is bound to strain even the more, after the interim president Abdullahi Yusuf survived a coup attempt on Monday by suicide car bombers, as he drove away from parliament that was seating to approve his new cabinet. He had just addressed the parliament , lecturing on the vitality of unity, and was heavily applauded.

A suicide bomber driving a car packed with explosives successfully penetrated into the president’s convoy outside the parliament building in Baidoa, blowing up several cars, and leaving eight people dead, and 18 others injured.

The main target, President Abdullah Yusuf was not hurt, but his younger brother, Dirie Yusuf Ahmed and three cabinet ministers were killed in the attack. President Yusuf who spoke on state radio several hours later, a broadcast relayed by BBC Somali language service, described how he survived the attack:

“We are safe…But three of my colleagues were killed, including my brother.” Said President Yusuf. He told that his car was the second in a long convoy that was driving away from parliament, before a Toyota Sedan car approached them, slamming the lead car, exploding, and leaving many cars in flames including his own. He explained that bodyguards were quick to pull him out of his car, rushing him away into nearby fortified headquarters.

"The attack was a suicide car bomb against me…The suicide car hit the first car in the convoy and exploded." He added.

An indirect curfew was later imposed on Baidoa, the whole city shut down, and so many presidential guards touring the streets. Some journalists were arrested, and security tightened.

Despite the blast, the parliament went on to approve the new government cabinet.

It is widely believed that the attack was carried out by the Union of Islamic courts as an attempt to cement their control. They have been accused of attempting to implement a Taliban-style government in Somalia. The interim government has not yet implicated them. Speaking at a news conference in Nairobi, Foreign Minister Ismail Hurre Buba said the attack followed al Qaida tactics.

"It was characteristically an al Qaida-type attempt with a car being put next to other cars and an explosion taking place through remote control," Said Hurre.

The interior minister, Hussein Mohamed Farah Aideed, was more skeptical in his statement. He said it is yet too soon to point to any group, but that nevertheless, two of the attackers were arrested.

The Union of Islamic courts have nevertheless casually condemned the attack. But there were celebrations amongst Islamist militias, who drove around Mogadishu shouting, “Allah is great”. Ibrahim Hassan Addou, the group’s foreign minister said this was clear indication that the Baidoa government was an unpopular regime.

“But they are our friends and our brothers,…We are concerned for them.” He remarked.

The Islamists seized the capital Mogadishu since summer, and has since extended their control throughout the Southern part of the country.

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