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Somali President Says Islamists Planning Assassinations


Somalia's interim president says he has evidence that rival Islamists plan to assassinate him and 16 other members of his government.

In a statement Thursday, President Abdullahi Yusuf said his security forces found documents detailing the alleged plot following last month's car bomb attempt on his life in the town of Baidoa.

Officials from Somalia's Islamist movement were not immediately available for comment.

In the statement, Mr. Yusuf also said his government has "troubling concerns" about talks with the Islamists scheduled for later this month in Sudan.

Mr. Yusuf and an Islamist official discussed the talks with diplomats from the so-called Contact Group on Somalia Thursday in Nairobi. Members of the group including the United States have encouraged the sides to go ahead with the talks despite rising tensions.

The government has accused the Islamists of violating a non-aggression pact signed in June by seizing control over much of the country's center and south. The Islamists meanwhile have declared holy war on Ethiopia, which supports the weak interim government militarily.

In a speech Thursday, Ethiopia's Prime Minister Meles Zenawi acknowledged sending military trainers to Somalia. He denied deploying a large number of troops, despite numerous witness reports of Ethiopian soldiers in Baidoa, the Somali government's home base.

The government has international backing, but virtually no power outside Baidoa. Islamist forces have controlled the capital, Mogadishu, since June.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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