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Suspects Held Over Suicide Bombing In Somalia
Baidoa, December 03, 2006 – Several suspects were being held on Saturday in suspected connection with recent suicide attack in Baidoa where the Somali government is based.
Officials of the Somali transitional government said security has been tightened and they have arrested more than six people suspected of being involved in Thursday's suicide attack.
The Supreme Council of Islamic Courts (SCIC), which controls much of central and southern Somalia, has rejected accusations that it was behind the car bomb attack on Baidoa.
There are conflicting reports about what exactly happened on Thursday at a checkpoint, five km outside Baidoa.
One government official said a woman wearing a veil and two other people blew up their cars as police tried to inspect their vehicles. Other witnesses said only one car exploded and the force of the blast destroyed two other cars waiting behind it.
"There were flames everywhere," an eyewitness said.
The checkpoint is closely guarded by Somali authorities that keep close watch on those entering and leaving Baidoa.
Sources said that some "lightly-wounded" individuals were among the suspects being questioned by Baidoa police. The source said one of those arrested lost a leg in the explosion and another is a woman.
Police have tightened security around the town and several cars from the Islamist-held capital, Mogadishu, were not allowed to enter Baidoa.
Thursday's suicide bombing was only the second in a few months. Interim Somali President Abdillahi Yusuf survived a suicide car bomb attack in Baidoa two months ago, which killed his brother. He blamed that attack on his Islamist rivals, who denied responsibility.
The latest bombing was condemned by the UN top envoy to Somalia who said the incident has dampened hopes for the resumption of stalled peace talks between the government and the SCIC.
Francois Fall, UN Secretary General's special envoy for Somalia said he was dismayed by the incident.
"I am very concerned about this kind of attack because this is the second time in Baidoa and we do not know exactly who committed that act," he said.
However, the UN envoy said he still believes there is a chance for all sides to calm down and resume peace talks at the end of this month in Sudan. "We are talking to the government," Fall said.
"We are now in touch with the courts in Mogadishu and there are some other initiatives on the ground. All of us, we are working with the Arab League to enter in some meaningful dialogue because we believe dialogue is the key to security and power-sharing."