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US slams attack on new Somali leader

14 September 2012, 09:28

Washington - The United States on Thursday condemned an assassination bid against Somalia's new president, just days after voicing hopes his election would usher in a new era for the war-torn country.

"The United States condemns these attacks in the strongest possible terms and calls on all Somalis to refrain from inciting violence," Hilary Renner, spokesperson for the State Department's bureau of African affairs, told AFP.

Hassan Sheikh Mohamud was the surprise winner of Monday's election in the poverty-stricken Horn of Africa nation that has been the battleground of warlords and Islamist militias for more than two decades.

Washington on Tuesday congratulated him on his election, with the White House calling it "an important milestone" for the country.

But on Thursday Hassan had been moved to a secure compound after surviving unharmed a bomb attack at a hotel that killed three others and dented the hopes of change.

The al-Qaeda linked Shabaab militia claimed responsibility for the apparent twin suicide bomb attacks on Wednesday outside the Mogadishu hotel where Hassan had been meeting a Kenyan delegation.

"The United States stands firmly with the Somali people in their rejection of political violence and terrorism," Renner added, saying Washington sent its condolences "to the families and survivors of those who gave their lives defending Somalia's new government".

The special US representative for Somalia James Swan also condemned the attacks in a statement and paid tribute to "the courage and professionalism of the Somali Security Services and their allies" from the African Union force in Somalia.



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