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Somali PM Escapes Suicide Bomb Attack

Officials in Somalia say interim Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi has escaped a deadly suicide bomb attack outside his home in Mogadishu.

Witnesses and officials say the bomber detonated a car rigged with explosives at the gates of Mr. Gedi's residence Sunday.

The spokesman of the African Union peacekeeping force in Somalia says Mr. Gedi was unharmed and was taken to a safe location after the blast.

At least five people were killed in the explosion, which Somali government officials are blaming on al-Qaida.

This is believed to be at least the third attempt on Mr. Gedi's life over the last year.

Somalia's interim government has struggled to establish authority, amid frequent attacks on officials and pro-government Ethiopian forces.

Officials have blamed the attacks on clan fighters, Islamists and foreign terrorists.

Earlier, officials in Somalia's semi-autonomous Puntland region said local troops backed by U.S. naval forces killed at least eight Islamist fighters in the past two days.

Somali officials reported Saturday that a U.S. warship bombarded Islamist hideouts Friday and Saturday near the coastal town of Bargal. Puntland officials say the combined actions of local and U.S. forces "defeated" the Islamists, who had set up bases in the region over the past week.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates Sunday refused to comment on the events in Puntland, other than to say it was "possibly an ongoing operation."

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