Tue, Aug 28, 2007 - Page 6 News List

Grenade wounds delegate during Somali peace talks

AFP , MOGADISHU

A delegate to Somali peace talks was slightly injured when a grenade was hurled at the hotel in southern Mogadishu that is the venue for the discussions, a witness said yesterday.

The device was lobbed at the Medina Hotel on Sunday, in the third incident targeting participants in the state-sponsored Somali National Reconciliation Congress.

"The grenade landed outside the hotel and slightly wounded one of the delegates," said Yusuf Salah, another delegate at the talks which -- despite UN and Western support -- have made little progress since opening on July 15.

Last week, gunmen killed a respected elder participating in the peace process, while on Saturday grenades were fire at another hotel, wounding two delegates.

"Attacks against delegates are intensifying, but I don't think we will stop our will for lasting peace. We are devoted for what brought us here," another delegate to the talks, Amina Abdullahi, said.

"We shall never surrender to those trying to undermine peace efforts," Abdullahi said.

In a separate incident yesterday, Somali police killed a suspected insurgent trying to throw a grenade in Mogadishu.

"His body is lying near the police station," said Mohammed Muhidin, a spokesman for the city's mayor.

On Sunday, a series of explosions rocked Mogadishu, killing two children and an elderly man, and wounding five other people.

Those blasts came a day after the Islamist-led militants vowed to step up their insurgency until Ethiopian forces deployed to bolster the feeble Somali government pulled out of Somalia.

Mogadishu, Somalia's epicenter of anarchy, has been hosting talks aimed at reconciling feuding factions and tightening Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed's tenuous grip on power in the impoverished nation of 10 million.

The Islamist militants and elders from Mogadishu's dominant Hawiye clan are boycotting the parley that is being backed by both the UN and Western powers.

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