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Last Updated: Sunday, 19 August 2007, 18:22 GMT 19:22 UK
Clan elder shot dead in Somalia
A leading clan elder in Somalia has been shot dead, dealing a new blow to efforts to bring peace to the country.

Maalim Harun Maalim Yusuf was shot twice in the head by three armed men outside his home in the Somali capital of Mogadishu on Saturday evening.

The 63-year-old played a key role in a government sponsored clan reconciliation meeting in July.

Skirmishes between government troops and insurgents have claimed hundreds of lives in recent months.

Tribal elders are normally too revered to be considered targets.

Mortar attacks

Haji Abdi Iman, a senior representative to the conference from the Hawiye clan, told news agency AFP: "I don't care who committed this heinous crime but I can say this is a black day for the supporters of peace because he a dedicated negotiator despite his old age."

Following the shooting, fighting broke out in the Horuwa district of the capital as insurgents fired mortars at police.

Last December, the interim government, backed by Ethiopia, ousted the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC), an Islamist group that had taken control of much of southern Somalia.

Since that alliance regained control of Mogadishu in April, insurgents have mounted regular attacks against government targets.

Mr Yusuf was from the same sub-clan as Somalia's interim Prime Minister Ali Mohammed Ghedi.

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