Blast kills civilians in Somali town

Three Somali civilians were killed and six others wounded on Sunday when an explosion rocked the southern town of Baidoa, witnesses said, in what an official described as a suspected Islamist attack.

”The three were killed [when] a heavy explosion hit the main street in Baidoa,” Ali Hassan Moalim, a witness, said. ”Six other civilians were wounded and were rushed to hospital. Two of them were in a critical condition.”

A government official confirmed the blast in the town, where the Somali transitional Parliament is based, and said it was a suspected attack by Islamist militants.

”The explosion was very heavy and we suspect it was carried out by the Islamists militants,” said the official, who requested to remain unnamed.

Over the past year, insurgents have attacked government targets after being ousted from southern and central regions by Ethiopian-backed Somali troops in early 2007.

The guerrilla fighting has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee mainly from Mogadishu, which has been the epicentre of the clashes.

Somalia has lacked an effective government since the 1991 ousting of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre. Ensuing factional clashes have defied numerous bids to restore stability. — Sapa-AFP

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