Aid workers urged to stay after suicide blast

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The Independent Online

Somali Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali has appealed to aid workers not to desert the famine-ravaged nation after militants linked to al-Qa'ida killed 70 people in a suicide bomb attack in Mogadishu.

A truck bomb struck at the heart of the capital on Tuesday and the Islamist group al-Shabaab warned of more "serious blasts" at a time when aid groups are struggling to reach four million people, most of whom live in the rebel-controlled southern and central parts of Somalia.

President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed said the rebels could not have "attacked the Somali people at a worse time", as the country struggles with the worst drought in decades.

"The donor community should not reduce their support to the Somali people," Mr Ali told journalists in the Ethiopian capital when asked if he feared the attack might force aid workers to stay away from providing humanitarian support. "We will make sure our security and national police force will work harder. The TFG [Transitional Federal Government] is committed to eliminating this threat."

Al-Shabaab pulled most of its fighters out of Mogadishu in August after government and African Union soldiers seized much of the capital. But the rebels vowed to fight on.

Analysts have warned the conflict is far from won and a shift in the insurgents' tactics could herald a wave of al-Qa'ida-style attacks. AP