03/08/08 (B459) AP / Une explosion tue 20 personnes à Mogadiscio. (En Anglais)

By MOHAMED SHEIKH NOR

MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) — An explosion killed at least 20 people in the Somali capital Sunday, according to witnesses and a hospital official, as the government struggles with a political crisis that is threatening its peace deal with elements of an Islamic insurgency.

Salah Adde said a bomb hidden under a pile of garbage exploded on a main road and 15 people were killed, including 10 women street cleaners.

“It was an ugly scene with blood everywhere,” said another witness, Farah Abdi. “I could not count the dead, I just glanced at once and I ran away for my life.”

Medina hospital admitted 47 wounded people but five of them died, hospital head Dahir Dhere said. Those deaths would have brought the death toll to 20.
Dhere said most of the injured were women and children, and many were in critical condition.

The explosion followed last month’s peace agreement, which has fueled power struggles within both the transitional government and the Islamic insurgency it is fighting.

In a separate overnight attack, Islamic insurgents reportedly targeted the military bases of Somali government troops and their Ethiopian allies in north Mogadishu’s Towfiq neighborhood, according to witnesses.

Resident Mohamed Deq said he saw the bodies of three government soldiers lying in the street. Authorities could not immediately be reached for comment on those attacks.

The attacks end a period of relative calm that followed the signing of the peace deal, which is on shaky ground after 10 of the U.N.-backed government’s 15 ministers broke with the prime minister on Saturday and announced they would resign.

Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein said Saturday that the resignations were designed “to derail the ongoing reconciliation process.”

The peace agreement was already in jeopardy, after the moderate cleric who signed it on behalf of the Islamic opposition movement was replaced by hard-liner Sheik Hassan Dahir Aweys, who has rejected the deal.

Somalia has been at war since a group of warlords overthrew a socialist dictator in 1991 and then spent years fighting each other. In 2006, Aweys led Islamist insurgents to take the capital and much of the south, but they were driven out at the end of the year.

The Islamists launched an insurgency that has killed thousands of Somalis and left hundreds of thousands homeless. The U.N. estimates half the 10-million population will be dependent on food aid by the end of the year.