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Last Updated: Friday, 18 May 2007, 14:00 GMT 15:00 UK
US names special envoy to Somalia
John Yates
John Yates has come out of retirement to work with Somalia
The US has appointed a special envoy for Somalia, which is struggling to restore order after 16 years without a functioning central government.

John Yates, a career diplomat with experience in Africa, will head the Somalia unit from the US embassy in Kenya, because of the lack of security.

The US helped Ethiopia and government forces drive out an Islamist group from the capital, Mogadishu, last December.

The US accused the Islamists of sheltering al-Qaeda operatives.

The Union of Islamic Courts denied the charges.

In his first public comments since his appointment, he said this week's attack which killed four Ugandan peacekeepers in the capital, Mogadishu may have been carried out by al-Qaeda.

"Obviously the tactics that hit the Ugandan convoy and killed the peacekeepers were very much like the tactics that al-Qaeda and other terrorist movements have used in the past," he said.


John Yates has served as ambassador to Cameroon, Benin and Cape Verde.

He retired in 2002 but has been monitoring developments in Somalia from the embassy in Kenya.

Ugandan peacekeepers carrying the coffin of a dead colleague
The peacekeepers' bodies have been flown back to Uganda
"The United States is committed to helping Somalis develop their national institutions and overcome the legacy of violence and disorder of the past," US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in a statement announcing the appointment.

"By supporting the people of Somalia in this effort, we are also contributing to the peace and stability of the Horn of Africa, and to the African continent as a whole."

The Ugandan army says the dead peacekeepers' families will be paid $100,000 in compensation, reports Uganda's New Vision newspaper.

Earlier this year US war planes conducted several strikes against what it said were al-Qaeda suspects who were fleeing along with the Islamist fighters.

But the US said it had not killed any of its major targets.

The US says the 1998 attacks on its embassies in Kenya and Tanzania and the 2002 attack on Israeli targets in Kenya were co-ordinated from Somalia.

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