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Two Killed In Latest Somalia Violence

At least two people have been killed in the latest attacks targeting government officials in Somalia.

One person was killed when a roadside bomb hit the convoy of Trade Minister Abdullahi Ahmed Afrah in Mogadishu late Tuesday. The trade minister survived the attack but several people including some of Afrah's bodyguards were wounded.

In a separate incident, Somalia's former defense minister Barre Hirale was wounded by a roadside bomb in the town of Bardhere Wednesday. The blast killed Hirale's driver while Hirale suffered head injuries.

In further violence, an assailant threw a grenade at police in Mogadishu's Bakara market Wednesday. Several casualties were reported.

Insurgents have stepped up their attacks on local and national officials in recent weeks as the Somali transitional government struggles to establish authority.

The government hopes to restore calm with a national reconciliation conference now scheduled to start on July 15. The conference has been postponed three times this year by organizational and funding problems.

On Tuesday, the United States urged Somali officials to reach out as broadly as possible to the country's clans and factions for the conference. A State Department spokesman, Tom Casey, said such inclusion is necessary if Somalia is to have a stable government.

Somalia has not had an effective central government since 1991.

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