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Al Shabab strikes Somali lawmakers

A suicide bombing in a Somali town more than 300 miles from Mogadishu killed at least two lawmakers who were engaged in trying to set up a lasting government.

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    Members of Somalia's Al Shabab militant group patrol on foot on the outskirts of Mogadishu on March 5.
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• A daily summary of global reports on security issues.

Al Shabab has claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing in a Somali province yesterday that killed at least two lawmakers visiting from the capital. They were meeting several other lawmakers to discuss establishing a local administration as part of a larger effort to end Somalia's series of transitional governments.

Most reports indicate there were civilian deaths as well.

Although Al Shabab attacks on government and African Union targets are common, they are rare in the city of Dusamareb and the Galgadud region, where the attack took place, Reuters reports. Dusamareb has long been controlled by a pro-government militia named Ahlu Sunna, which receives support from Ethopia. 

Al Shabab also claimed responsibility for blowing up a car in Mogadishu, killing one man. The militant group said he was targeted because he worked for the government, according to Reuters.

The two attacks came on the heels of a warning from the United Nations, the African Union mission to the country, and Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), an East African diplomatic organization, that a fledgling agreement to establish a lasting government is endangered, Agence France-Presse reports. A road map for replacing the weak Western-backed Transitional Federal Government (TFG) by August and bringing an end to decades of civil war was agreed to and signed by Somali leaders in September.

The biggest hurdle is determining what kind of government system would best unite the various administrations across the country. A new constitution and parliament are also needed.  

"The roadmap continues to be jeopardised by the actions of individuals and groups in and out of Somalia, working to undermine the fragile progress we have collectively made in recent months," the statement from the international organizations read, according to AFP. "We have come too far, and too much is at stake, for us to allow the process to backslide at the exact moment Somalia has its best opportunity for peace in decades."

Al Shabab has been waging a war against the transitional government for years and controlled the capital of Mogadishu for much of that time, but a fierce African Union-backed campaign that began last summer has pushed them out and kept them on their back feet. The original 12,000 AU troops were boosted to 18,000 in October to include Kenyan troops; Kenya has accused Al Shabab of being behind a number of kidnappings in Kenya. The AU troops have expanded their efforts beyond Mogadishu, sometimes working in tandem with Ethiopian troops, BBC reports.


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