grenade thrown at a cinema in the central Somali town of Baidoa has killed
five people and injured nine.
Eyewitnesses say the video hall, known to have shown films that have had naked
scenes, was packed with people.
In the capital, Mogadishu, unidentified gunmen have thrown grenades at road
junctions, killing at least one person.
The attacks come as the United States handed over $4m in development aid to
Somalia, some of it earmarked for twice-postponed peace talks.
Government critics say convening the reconciliation conference while Ethiopian
troops are in Mogadishu is pointless.
Ethiopian soldiers have been in Somalia since December, when they helped oust
an Islamist group that had taken power.
Islamists and Mogadishu’s dominant Hawiye clan are opposed to Ethiopia’s presence
Correspondents say the motive for the attack in Baidoa on Thursday night is
not yet known.
But residents in the area had complained to the cinema owner because some
of the films being screened had scenes of nudity.
Militant Islamists, who have been fighting the interim government, have often
broken up public viewings of Indian and Western films, which they say promote
The BBC’s Mohammed Olad Hassan in Mogadishu says the grenade attacks took
place at the Sana and Afarta Jaridna junctions in the north of the city.
Eyewitnesses say two Ethiopian soldiers and a civilian were wounded at Sana
junction and at least one person was killed at Afarta Jaridna, where the grenade
was hurled at a passing government vehicle.
One government soldier was seen lying in the street, but it is not known if
Meanwhile, in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, the US ambassador to Kenya Michael
Ranneberger has presided over an official ceremony to hand over the $4m aid
It includes $1.25m for reconciliation conference, a US embassy statement said.
The money is to be channelled through the UN Development Programme and correspondents
say no Somali government officials were at the ceremony.
Some analysts have called for funding to go directly to the government to
enable it to establish itself and its authority.
“What the government lacks is a lot of funding,” Ali Abdillahi,
a Nairobi-based adviser to the Somali government, told the BBC’s Network Africa
“We’re talking in the hundreds of millions of dollars – that’s what can
bring in good governance and development.”
For too long the country’s finances have been in the hands of the development
agencies, Mr Abdillahi said.
“That’s dangerous as far as state security or state development is concerned
because the international community should have engaged the transitional federal
Somalia has been without a functioning government since 1991.