A rare joint plea for peace in Somalia from the United Nations, African Union and an east African bloc has been shaken by two bomb attacks. The deadliest blast killed three parliamentarians far outside Mogadishu.
Shabaab rebels linked to al-Qaeda have claimed responsibility for two bomb attacks in Somalia as the United Nations, African Union and the east African diplomatic bloc IGAD warned jointly that months of "fragile progress" is at stake.
Witnesses said a suicide bomber had entered a hotel café in the central Somali city of Dusamareb where a delegation of lawmakers - from Mogadishu, 640 kilometers (400 miles) away - was meeting local administrators to discuss reforms.
Dusamareb is the main city of the central region of Galgadud, which for several years has been controlled by a pro-government militia, Ahlu Sunna wal Jamma, which reportedly has received weapons and training from neighboring Ethiopia.
An Ahlu Sunna spokesman said the bomber killed four people, including three visiting legislators and a local militiaman.
A parliamentarian who escaped unhurt, Dahir Amin Jesow, said six other people were injured by the blast.
Back-footed militia claims responsibility
The news agency Reuters said the claim of responsibility came from a spokesman for the jihadist militia al-Shabaab, who said another bomb, planted inside a car in Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, had been aimed at a Somali government worker. A Mogadishu police officer said that bombing killed three people.
In recent months, a 10,000-strong African Union deployment backing Somali government troops has gradually forced al-Shabaab to cede Mogadishu. In February, the
militants lost control of Baidoa, the country's third-largest town. They struck back early in April in Baidoa with two bombings that killed 18 people.
The AU deployment includes soldiers from Burundi, Djibouti and Uganda.
Last September, Somali leaders signed an agreement for the formation of a government by August this year to replace the 550-member transitional assembly.
Joint warning against "spoilers"
The "roadmap" agreement foresees a national convention, a new constitution and a new parliament to integrate Somalia's fragmented – and often rival – administrations.
Tuesday's joint warning from the UN, AU and east Africa's Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) was directed at what it called "all potential spoilers". It did not, however, name any people or groups.
Non-compliance, the trio said, would result in "concrete action," including requests for sanctions from east African IGAD nations, or from the UN Security Council.
Last month, Somali's Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali claimed that al-Shabab militants were "in tatters" and had fled to the Galgala mountains in northeastern Somalia because of the increased regional military pressure.
ipj/slk (AP, Reuters, dpa, AFP)