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Suicide car bomb kills 14 in Somali capital

A SUICIDE car bomb aimed at African Union peacekeepers in the Somali capital missed its target yesterday and killed 13 civilians and a policeman.

The city's deputy governor, Abdifatah Shaweye, said policemen stationed near an AU base opened fire on the bomb-laden car as it approached, causing it to crash and blow up. Thirteen civilians and a policeman died, he said.

"I could see smoke rising near the AU base," witness Abbas Farah said.

At least 30 people were wounded, doctors said.

The spokesman for the small AU force AMISIOM, Major Barigye Ba-hoku, said no peacekeepers had been hurt. "That opposition group has massacred only innocent Somali people," he said.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.

Islamist insurgents have been battling the country's interim government since the start of 2007, and have stepped up attacks since the administration's Ethiopian military allies withdrew from Mogadishu this month.

Some analysts fear the Ethiopian withdrawal has left a power vacuum that will be exploited by hard-line Islamists from the al Shabaab group, which Washington says is linked to al Qaeda.

The international community is putting pressure on Somali politicians meeting in neighboring Djibouti to form an inclusive government with the main Islamist opposition party and elect a new president next week.


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