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Somalia Denies CIA Presence In Bombing Probe
NAIROBI, Sept 22, 2006 -- The transitional government of Somalia on Friday denied reports that the U.S. Central Bureau of Investigations (CIA) were probing an assassination attempt against Somali President Abdillahi Yusuf early this week.
Government spokesman Abdirahman Dinari said the United States, which was accused of bankrolling former Mogadishu-based warlords, had not dispatched its CIA agents to Baidoa, the seat of the fledgling administration, to probe Monday's abortive suicide bombing on Yusuf.
Speaking by telephone from Baidoa, about 250 km north of Mogadishu, Dinari said the government only sent a general request to international community for help with the investigations.
"The Somali government has requested assistance from the international community, but there is no single party that we specifically asked to help us investigate the Baidoa blasts," Dinari said.
Dinari said that some countries such as Ethiopia and some members of the regional mediation body, the Inter Governmental Authority on Development, which mediated the two-year reconciliation process that culminated in the formation of interimgovernment, had offered assistance to the investigation.
The spokesman also confirmed the government was questioning six suspects in connection with the suicide bombing which claimed 11 lives and injured 19 others.
"We can't release their names due to sensitivity of the matter and may also jeopardize ongoing investigations," said Dinari.
Meanwhile, the rapidly advancing militias of the Islamic Courts are mulling to take over the strategic southern port of Kismayo and to close the border with neighboring Kenya.
Analysts say both steps would considerably boost the power of the group which already controls much of southern Somalia.
Regional analysts also say closing the border with neighboring Kenya could prevent the deployment of regional peacekeepers, which neighboring countries say is necessary to stabilize the Horn of African nation.
Somalia's government has repeatedly called for peacekeepers to bolster its bid to re-establish central rule in Somalia for the first time in 15 years. Hundreds of demonstrators on Thursday expressed support for a peacekeeping mission while denouncing a car bombing on Monday that targeted President Yusuf.
Yusuf was unhurt in the blast, which along with an ensuing gun battle killed 11 including his brother.