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Security Tightened in Mogadishu After Assassination Attempt

In the troubled Somali capital, Mogadishu, security has been tightened, following a bombing that targeted the country's interim Prime Minister, Ali Mohamed Gedi. The prime minister was unharmed, and there have been no claims of responsibility. VOA Correspondent Alisha Ryu has more from our East Africa Bureau in Nairobi.

Conflicting reports have emerged about the bombing, which occurred Thursday as Prime Minister Gedi was returning to his compound from Mogadishu Airport.

According to one report from the prime minister's office, a bomb - possibly a grenade - was thrown at the 15-vehicle convoy carrying the Somali leader. The explosive detonated as the first vehicle passed.

Another report says the convoy hit a landmine, which failed to explode.

This was the second time Mr. Gedi has escaped assassination in as many years. In November 2005, gunmen tossed grenades and a landmine exploded near his convoy, killing several of his bodyguards.

Government spokesman Abdi Haji Gobdon refused to comment on Thursday's attack. But he told VOA that there are sufficient security forces deployed in the city to guard Prime Minister Gedi and President Abdullahi Yusuf.

"Security is very strong," he said. "The Ugandan peacekeepers, they are caring for the security of the president and the prime minister. Also, the Somali army, the police force, so Mogadishu is now very, very quiet."

The assassination attempt came one day after a roadside bomb killed four Ugandan peacekeepers and wounded five more near the capital's old seaport.

Somali officials say police arrested several people late Wednesday in connection with that bombing, but the suspects have not been identified.

Somali government and African Union officials have speculated that terrorists linked to the al-Qaida network may have carried out the attack on the peacekeepers.

But Mogadishu residents say it was likely the work of anti-government insurgents, who fought pitched battles with Ethiopian troops in the capital from mid-March to the end of April. The fighting left more than 1,500 people dead and displaced nearly 400,000 others.

Mr. Gedi was at Mogadishu Airport Thursday to attend a ceremony for the four Ugandan soldiers who were killed. Their bodies were flown back to Kampala for burial.

Uganda sent 1,400 troops to Mogadishu two months ago as the vanguard of a larger African Union peacekeeping force. So far, no other country has contributed troops to the mission.

The spokesman for the AU mission in Somalia, Captain Paddy Ankunda, says despite the continuing threat of bombings in Mogadishu, Ugandan troops will remain.

"Our mission is not completed yet," he noted. "The mission will continue as planned and we will definitely put in measures against such attack."

The African Union expressed shock and disbelief at the deaths of the peacekeepers, but urged Uganda and other countries to stay engaged in efforts to stabilize Somalia.