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SOMALIA: Al-Shabaab attacks escalate as election draws near

Written by  From International Peace and Security Report

Following the agreement to hold an election in Somalia this year, al-Shabaab has intensified its attacks; this week alone, two separate al-Shabaab attacks killed at least 44 people. On Friday, al-Shabaab attacked a Mogadishu hotel, killing 14 civilians and injuring 16 more. A suicide bomber drove his car through the hotel's entrance before detonating his explosive device. This cleared the path for four gunmen to attack the first security barrier. All militants were killed before breaching the final security checkpoint. Another bomb attack at a Baidoa restaurant on Sunday killed at least 30 civilians and wounded 61 others. Police reported "twin blasts" - one from a car bomb and another from a suicide bomber. Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for both attacks. Comment: The election will not use a one-person, one-vote ballot, but will instead rely on a power-sharing formula agreed to by rival clans. The election's opponents claim it will simply reinforce the status quo; however, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and other proponents, emphasize the establishment of a two-chamber parliament with women holding nearly one-third of the seats as "a roadmap towards universal suffrage by 2020." (Mail & Guardian Africa, RBC Radio, Al Jazeera, The Guardian)

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