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Attack on Somali police patrol kills 2 shoppers

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June 27, 2007 (MOGADISHU) — Unidentified gunmen lobbed three hand grenades at a police truck patrolling the main market in Somalia’s capital Wednesday, missing the truck and killing two shoppers, police and witnesses said.

Also on Wednesday, former defense minister Barre Hirale was injured in the head in an assassination attempt, said Barre Abdi, the district commissioner of the main regional town of Bardhere, 200 miles (320 kilometers) west of Mogadishu. Abdi said Hirale’s car was hit by a landmine, and that his driver was critically injured.

It was one in a series of assassination attempts against prominent figures in Somalia. Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi alone has survived three attempts since May 2005.

The country’s Minister for Trade Abdullahi Ahmad Afrah said he survived an assassination attempt in Mogadishu on Tuesday when a roadside bomb hit his body guards’ car, killing one of them and injuring three others, one of them seriously.

"It was an assassination attempt. But it failed," Afrah who was riding in another car said. "Even the targeted car was slightly damaged."

At Mogadishu’s Bakara market, police officer Abdi Mohamed Shino, who was in the truck targeted by the grenades, said police opened fire after the attack and injured two civilians.

"Two civilians died in the (grenade) blast and two others, including a policeman, (were) wounded," Shino said. "I think the attackers disappeared into the market."

Government troops backed by Ethiopian forces drove an Islamic movement from Mogadishu six months ago, but have since struggled to put down remnants of the Islamic movement as well as clan fighting.

Somalia has been mired in chaos since 1991, when warlords overthrew dictator Mohamed Siad Barre and then turned against one another, defending clan fiefdoms. The government was formed in 2004 with the help of the U.N., but has struggled to assert any real control.

A reconciliation conference scheduled for next month is intended to end the violence. The conference, though, has been repeatedly postponed.

The chairman of the National Reconciliation Committee, Ali Mahdi Mohamed, said on Wednesday the meeting will be held on time.

"I am very hopeful that the conference will not be delayed this time because it has the full support of the international community and the Somalis as well," Mahdi said.

(AP)

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