Suicide bombers target UN in Somalia

October 29th, 2008 | by addis portal |

The offices of the UN Development Programme in Hargeisa, capital of the semi-autonomous enclave of Somaliland, were hit first.

Soon after, there were two further explosions at the city’s electoral commission offices and at the Ethiopian embassy, were there were reports of “catastrophic damage” and multiple casualties.

At the same time, the headquarters of the intelligence service in neighbouring Puntland were hit by either a suicide bomber or an improvised explosive device.

Police said that at least 19 people had been killed in the attacks as well as three dead bombers.

It was unclear who was behind the blasts, but they came as leaders of Somalia’s Western-backed transitional government met regional heads of state for talks in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.

Islamist hardliners opposed to that government and its Ethiopian backers are running an Iraq-style insurgency in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu. Analysts suggested that the Hargeisa bombings could have been carried out to disrupt the Nairobi talks.

Somaliland and Puntland, both breakaway states in northern Somalia which are lobbying for recognition as independent nations, have been largely untouched by the violence sweeping southern Somalia.

However, Puntland has become increasingly dangerous for foreigners due to a wave of kidnappings. Many of the pirate groups targeting ships passing through the Gulf of Aden are also based there.

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