Riots in Somalia after minister is shot dead

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The Independent Online

Hundreds of people rioted near the headquarters of Somalia's virtually powerless government yesterday, after a minister was fatally shot as he walked from morning prayers.

People took to the streets and set fires just hours after Abdallah Isaaq Deerow, Somalia's minister for constitutional and federal affairs, was shot in the chest. A 35-year-old man was arrested, said Baidoa's police chief, Aadin Biid. He gave no other details.

The shooting was the second this week of a lawmaker in Baidoa, the only town controlled by the fragile administration. Mohammed Ibrahim Mohammed, chairman of the parliamentary committee for constitutional affairs, was injured on Wednesday night. It was not clear whether the shootings were connected or politically motivated.

"We condemn this wicked action, and the government will chase the murderers and treat them with an iron hand," the information minister, Mohamed Abdi Hayir, said yesterday.

The government, which has no army, has watched helplessly as Islamists have taken over much of the country. Eighteen ministers resigned on Thursday, saying the government's peace efforts had failed. Mr Deerow was not among them.

The ministers also said they were opposed to troops from neighbouring Ethio-pia, who are in Baidoa to protect the government against the Islamists. Ethiopia is Somalia's traditional enemy, although the Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf has asked for its support - a decision that enraged many Somalis.

"We will launch a holy war against the aggressors," said Abdirisaq Hassan, who was among 5,000 people who turned out yesterday for an anti-Ethiopia demonstration in the capital, Mogadishu. "We shall go to heaven if we die, and they will suffer in hell."