25 killed in suicide bomb attacks in Somalia (Lead)

October 29th, 2008 - 7:59 pm ICT by IANS  

Mogadishu, Oct 29 (DPA) At least 25 people have been killed in a wave of suicide car bomb attacks in Somalia, hospital officials said Wednesday.Five suicide bomb attacks, including one on an Ethiopian embassy and one on a UN compound, rocked the breakaway northern state of Somaliland and the semi-autonomous state of Puntland.

Hospital officials in Somaliland told DPA that 25 people, including two foreigners, were killed in the bombings. Around 40 wounded were also being treated.

Witness Farhaan Omaye told DPA that three near-simultaneous bombs went off in the town of Hargeysa, Somaliland in the morning.

The Ethiopian embassy and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) compound were targeted, as was Somaliland’s presidential palace.

“The UN confirms that at around 10 a.m. the UNDP compound … was hit by an explosion, caused by a vehicle which forced entry into the compound,” the office of the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia said in a statement.

“There are known casualties as well as deaths, but the numbers are currently being verified,” the statement said. “Medical evacuation of the injured is ongoing.”

Two other bombs exploded in the semi-autonomous state of Puntland at the offices of the Puntland Intelligence Service in the port town of Bosasso, witness Mohamed Ali told DPA.

There was no clear picture of the number of wounded and dead in Puntland.

Puntland and Somaliland are normally relatively peaceful compared to Central and Southern Somalia, where a bloody insurgency is raging.

However, Puntland is home to hundreds of pirates who seize ships for ransom in the Gulf of Aden.

Insurgents have been fighting Somalia’s transitional federal government since Ethiopian troops helped oust the Union of Islamic Courts in early 2007.

A ceasefire, due to come into force Nov 5, was agreed on Sunday night. The ceasefire was part of a deal agreed in June.

However, main insurgent group al-Shabaab has rejected the deal and vowed to keep fighting until Ethiopian forces leave Somalia.

The bomb attacks came as officials from the Somali government were meeting regional heads of states for talks in Nairobi, the capital of neighbouring Kenya.

Aid agencies say almost 10,000 civilians have died and almost one million have fled, especially from the capital city Mogadishu, during the insurgency.

The Horn of Africa nation has been plagued by chaos and civil war since the ouster of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991.

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