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Somali President Returns to Mogadishu Friday a Day After Interior Minister Survives Assassination Attempt

Somali President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed is expected to arrive in the capital, Mogadishu today (Friday) from holding meetings with Tripoli about strengthening bilateral ties. President Sheikh Sharif arrives a day after an assassination attempt on the life of Interior Minister Sheikh Abdulkadir Ali Omar that left at least two people dead late Thursday. The government sharply condemned the attack, vowing to continue with its effort to restore stability in the capital, Mogadishu. Although no group has claimed responsibility for the attempted assassination, hard line insurgent group, al-Shabaab is suspected of carrying out the attack. Described by Washington as a terrorist organization with close links to Al Qaeda, al-Shabaab has refused to recognize the new Somali administration.

Abdisalam Guled is spokesman for the new Somali prime minister. He tells reporter Peter Clottey that Somalis are expressing anger over Thursday's assassination attempt.

"Yes the president is expected to come into the country today (Friday) from Djibouti where he had a stop over from his Libya trip. While there he discussed several issues including the important issues on the ground here with the Libyan authorities. He has been out for a quite a while and so now coming back it will give us great energy so things would move faster on the ground," Guled pointed out.

He described the assassination attempt on the interior minister as sinister.

"It is actually unfortunate what happened today. Mogadishu was and still is one of the most violent places on earth, but what we are trying to do and the hope we have is much different than what Mogadishu used to be. The interior minister's assassination attempt was actually deliberate to kill him, but luckily he escaped. But one of his secretaries was immediately killed on the spot and one of his body guards was injured. The minister himself was injured but he was able to walk away in one piece walking on his feet when he left the place of the assassination attempt," he said.

Guled said the government is working on plans to end insurgent attacks in the capital, Mogadishu as well as the entire country.

"We have already discussed with the security agencies and we also discussed possibilities with the communities as well as religious leaders and the leaders of armed groups in Somalia about the need to restore peace to the country. It is important for us to take very tactful initiatives and missions to respond responsibly to these kinds of attacks, which cannot be accepted," Guled pointed out.

He said the lack of gainful employment among Somali youth could be one contributing factor to the escalated violence.

"You know the people in Mogadishu or the people in Somalia and the reason why these young talented soldiers or guys are willing to take these kind s of action (violence) and the reason why they are so vulnerable is because they have nothing else to do. They have no hope and so one of our methods or strategies is to create hope for these people and to create other means and channels in life for them. By doing that it will derail or minimize the risks these guys are going through and putting other people's lives too," he said.

Guled described as productive the prime minister's meeting with members of some international bodies about the progress of Somalia after at least 18 years of ineffective government.

"Today the prime minister had a meeting with the head of the U.N in Somalia as well as the head of the UNDP of Somalia. And the discussion was about how to bring Somalia to stand on its feet and how to actually empower the people and empowering the people means to create jobs to create that life worth living for the ordinary Somali," Guled noted.

Interior Minister Sheikh Abdulkadir Ali Omar Thursday survived an assassination attempt in the capital, Mogadishu following a roadside bomb blast. His secretary and another government official were killed in the assassination attempt although the interior minister survived the blast.

Ali Omar is reportedly a close ally of President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and has been the leader of the armed wing of the former Islamist opposition group led by the current president. Political observers saw his membership in the Somali government as crucial, especially in the reconciliation efforts between the former Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and armed opposition groups.