Page last updated at 19:36 GMT, Sunday, 6 July 2008 20:36 UK

Top UN official killed in Somalia

Map showing Somalia

Gunmen have killed the head of the UN Development Programme in Somalia, UN officials say.

Osman Ali Ahmed was shot as he left a mosque in the capital, Mogadishu, and died in hospital of his injuries.

It is the latest in a string of attacks on officials, which is plagued by lawlessness after years of conflict.

Islamist groups have been staging an insurgency against the government troops and their Ethiopian allies who ousted them from power in 2006.

Mr Ahmed was attacked in Mogadishu's southern Bulohube district, a UN official told AFP news agency.

"The gunmen shot Ahmed as he was leaving evening prayers in the mosque in Bulohube," he said.

Mr Ahmed's son and another man were also wounded in the incident, the Associated Press news agency quotes a neighbour as saying.

The neighbour said Mr Ahmed had been covered in blood and unconscious as he was taken to hospital.

The shooting came a day after an explosion in the capital reportedly killed a Somali official, his wife and four others.

Civil conflict

Recent violence in Somalia has come despite a ceasefire pact signed by the government and opposition Islamist groups last month. Some factions rejected the deal.

Ethiopian troops, in Somalia to support the government, said they had killed at least 71 insurgents last week.

Thousands of people have fled the country this year as the security situation has deteriorated, aid agencies say.

Somalia has experienced almost constant civil conflict since the collapse of Mohamed Siad Barre's regime in January 1991.

The UN has warned that nearly half of Somalia's population is likely to require aid later this year.

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