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Somalia's First Suicide Bomb Misses President

President Abdullahi Yusuf survived an assassination attempt as Somalia’s first suicide bomb attack saw a bomb-laden car drive into Yusuf’s motorcade as he left the Somali parliament. Yusuf’s Somali government is official but powerless and its existence limited to the city of Baidoa, about 150 miles northwest of Mogadishu. The Islamic Courts Union, an al-Qaeda partner, controls virtually the rest of Somalia.

While President Yusuf survived, reportedly without injury, his brother was among the 5 killed by the blast. Yusuf’s security forces pursued the attackers, killing six of them and arresting two, who can be expected to undergo intense interrogations.

The ICU denied any involvement in the assassination attempt. But Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys and the ICU remain the one enemy the Somali government has at the moment, making those denials dubious at best.

That this is the first suicide bombing in Somalia is noteworthy and an indication of an al-Qaeda operation. Somalia has no history whatever of suicide bombings and, even in Afghanistan, locals are very rarely used in al-Qaeda suicide attacks. If this was an al-Qaeda attack as appears, the bomber was most likely a foreign terrorist.

This attack follows the terror attack that left a Catholic nun serving the sick in Somalia murdered. It is believed by eyewitnesses that the killing of the nun was in retaliation for the words spoken by Pope Benedict over the weekend. Having lived and charitably served the sick in Kenya and Somalia for 38 years, Sister Leonella’s last words were “I forgive, I forgive,” according to a priest at the scene, Rev. Maloba Wesonga. She was noted as saying once that there was “a bullet with [her] name on it in Somalia.”

The ICU claimed to have arrested the gunmen and vowed to punish Sister Leonella’s killers.