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Last Updated: Tuesday, 12 July 2005, 07:44 GMT 08:44 UK
Somali death 'undermines peace'
Abdulkadir Yahya Ali
Abdulkadir Yahya Ali's death has shocked Mogadishu residents
The United Nations has condemned the killing of a prominent peace activist in in the Somali capital, Mogadishu.

Abdulkadir Yahya Ali was shot dead by gunmen who stormed his home. Through his Centre for Research and Dialogue, he tried to resolve the 14-year war.

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said such acts of violence undermined the prospects for peace and reconciliation.

Five attackers handcuffed his security guards, cut off the phone lines and shot him in front of his wife.

"Mr Yahya had devoted many years to foster peace and reconciliation in his country and was widely respected by his countrymen and by many in the international community," Mr Annan said.

The BBC's Mohammed Olad Hassan in Mogadishu says the killing has shocked the city's residents.

Al-Qaeda

The co-director of the Centre for Research and Dialogue (CRD) Jabril Abdulle told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme that Mr Yahya had turned down the chance to leave Somalia because he wanted to help rebuild the country.

He said he was the first person to arrive after the shooting, which happened at 0230 local time (2330GMT on Sunday).

Facts and figures about life in Somalia

"As soon as I got there, I saw Yayha lying [outside] his house, while his wife was inside crying," he said.

Mr Yahya was buried on Monday morning.

In a report published over the weekend, the International Crisis Group (ICG) think-tank said Islamist groups linked to al-Qaeda were suspected of involvement in the apparent assassination of four aid workers and 10 former police or military officers in the past two years.

Mr Jabril denied reports that the CRD worked with the ICG.

But he said that those behind the killing may have thought this and killed Mr Yahya because of this "misunderstanding".

In its report, the ICG said: "Since 2003, Somalia has witnessed the rise of a new, ruthless independent jihadi network with links to al-Qaeda."

"In the rubble-strewn streets of the ruined capital of this state without a government... al-Qaeda operatives, jihadi extremists, Ethiopian security services and Western-backed counter-terrorism networks are engaged in a shadowy and complex contest waged by intimidation, abduction and assassination," the ICG said.

'Optimist'

United Nations resident and humanitarian coordinator for Somalia, Maxwell Gaylard, expressed shock at Mr Yahya's death.

Militiamen in Mogadishu
It is not known who killed Mr Yahya

"Yahya was a committed advocate for peace and reconciliation, and his optimism never faltered," Mr Gaylard said in a statement from Kenya.

"This is a great loss to Mogadishu and Somalia at this particular time when people of his courage and tenacity are most needed."

A government set up after more than two years of talks in Kenya is deeply divided.

President Abdullahi Yusuf says that Mogadishu is too dangerous and wants the government to be based in the town of Jowhar.

But the speaker of parliament, Sharif Hasan Shaykh Adan, and the warlords who control Mogadishu and who have been named as government ministers, insist that the government must be based in the capital.

Last week, Mr Yusuf told the BBC that he would soon start to head south from his northern stronghold collecting troops and militia as he goes, raising fears of fighting between the two sides.


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