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Blast Kills Somali Security Minister, at Least 20 Others

Somali officials say the country's national security minister has been killed in a bombing.

Omar Hashi Aden died Thursday along with at least 20 others in a suicide bombing in the central town of Beledweyne, near Somalia's border with Ethiopia.

The former Somali ambassador to Ethiopia, Abdul Karim Farah Laqanyo, was also killed.

The insurgent group al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the attack.

President blames al-Qaida

In a news conference, President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed also laid blame on al-Qaida. He said the terrorist network wants to make Somalia a safe haven for its operations.

Witnesses say Thursday's blast occurred when a car drove up to a hotel where Somalia's national security minister was staying.

Al-Shabab and an allied group, Hizbul Islam, are fighting to topple the Somali government and set up a strict Islamic state.

More fighting reported in Mogadishu

Heavy fighting in Mogadishu over the past six weeks has killed more than 200 people, including at least 22 killed in battles on Wednesday.

Many of the casualties Wednesday occurred when a mortar shell hit a mosque.

The United Nations said earlier this month that the recent fighting has displaced nearly 120,000 people from Mogadishu.

President Sheik Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, a moderate Islamist, has introduced sharia (Islamic) law in Somalia, but the hardline groups reject the move as insufficient.