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April 15, 2013

Militants Hunted in Mogadishu After Attack Kills 29

by VOA News

Somali authorities have launched a security sweep in Mogadishu, a day after al-Shabab militants stormed the city's main court complex and killed at least 29 people.

Troops in the capital blocked off streets Monday and searched vehicles and homes in the hunt for weapons and anyone believed to have militant ties.

Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon said Sunday's attack and subsequent bombing left 58 people wounded.

​​"The attack caused massive damage," he said.  "So far we have confirmed the deaths of 29 people, most of them civilians, while 58 others were wounded, most of them civilians.  We condemn this unjust and cowardly attack that targeted civilians indiscriminately."

Somali President Hassan Mohamud also condemned Sunday's attacks, saying that "a few desperate terrorists" will not keep Somalia from moving toward peace and stability.

A legal advisor to the president, Abdiwahab Osman Qalinle, told VOA that the attack comes just days after a major conference on judiciary reform in Somalia.

"This is clearly an attempt to derail this national resolve to reform the justice [judiciary]," he said.

On Sunday, a group of nine militants blasted their way into the court complex, some blowing up their explosive vests while others exchanged gunfire with government forces.

Hours later, a car bomb exploded near the airport in the capital, damaging a vehicle said to be carrying Turkish citizens.

Authorities said some of the militants were dressed in Somali military uniforms, and that all of the attackers died.

Mogadishu medical officials told VOA that among the dead are two lawyers who recently defended an alleged rape victim and the journalist who interviewed her.  

The journalist, Abdiaziz Abdinur, and the woman were sentenced to one year in prison on charges of insulting the country's honor and making false accusations.  The case sparked an international outcry and the two were later released.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague also condemned the attacks.
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