Wave of overnight attacks rocks Somali capital, killing 6-year-old boy, father

Gunfire, mortars and rockets slammed into Somalia's capital early Monday in a series of attacks that killed a father and his 6-year-old son as they slept and wounded at least seven people, witnesses said.

The violence which hit residential areas as well as the presidential palace, a radio station and a police station was among the worst since Somalia's government moved into the capital late last year. Somali troops, with the help of soldiers from neighboring Ethiopia, drove out a radical Islamic militia.

"We were sleeping when a heavy explosion rocked our house. It landed on the roof of our balcony," said Shamsa Ahmed, whose father and brother were killed in the mortar attack. Four others were wounded in that blast.

A separate rocket attack on a police station also wounded three others. It was not immediately clear whether there were casualties from other attacks outside the presidential palace and a radio station.

Somalia's deputy defense minister blamed the violence on remnants of the radical Islamic movement that was pushed out of Mogadishu and parts of the country's south earlier this year. The Islamic group has been accused of harboring al-Qaida suspects, which it denies.

Deputy Defense Minister Salad Ali Jelle said the attackers are linked to al-Qaida and that authorities were searching for them. "This is a cowardly attack," Jelle said. "Government troops will crack down on these terrorist elements."

The attacks came hours after a demonstration Sunday in the southern port city of Kismayo ended in violence. An explosion went off as the army chief prepared to address the rally of supporters of a proposed peacekeeping force.

It was not immediately clear what caused the explosion.

Kismayo, Somalia's third-largest city, was the last major city held by the radical Islamic movement. The group has vowed to launch an Iraq-style guerrilla war from hiding, reports AP.

The African Union has proposed a peacekeeping mission to help Somalia's struggling transitional government stabilize Somalia, particularly after Ethiopia withdraws its forces.

Somalia has not had an effective national government since 1991, when warlords overthrew dictator Mohamed Siad Barre and then turned on one another, throwing the country into anarchy. The transitional government was formed in 2004 with U.N. help.

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