July 11, 2005

Somali peace activist shot dead in front of wife

By C. Bryson Hull

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Gunmen assassinated a prominent Somali
peace activist at home in front of his wife on Monday in the
latest attack on humanitarian advocates struggling to bring
peace to the anarchic country.

The unidentified attackers shot Abdulkadir Yahya Ali, the
highly respected co-founder of the Center for Research and
Dialogue think tank, inside his home in the lawless capital,
Mogadishu, early on Monday, a U.N. official said.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan was shocked by the murder
and "condemns such acts of violence that continue to undermine
the prospects for peace and reconciliation in Somalia," U.N.
chief spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.

The attackers scaled the wall of his compound, handcuffed
his guards, ordered Yahya to hand over his laptop and then shot
him dead, said the official, who did not want to be named.

A family member said there were 10 assailants and that they
had cut the phone lines before killing Yahya.

It was not immediately clear who was behind the attack, nor
what motivated it.

Somalia, destroyed by 14 years of bloodshed and hunger that
flourished in the absence of a central government, remains one
of the most dangerous countries in the world and Mogadishu its
single deadliest location.

Kidnappings and killings are routine in the Horn of Africa
nation of up to 10 million people.

Yahya's killing follows attacks on people with foreign
links working in Somalia, among them aid workers and a producer
with Britain's BBC broadcaster, who was shot dead in February.


The Center for Research and Dialogue is considered among
the most effective non-governmental organizations in Somalia.

The U.N.'s Dujarric told reporters in New York: "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."

"We have lost a good man. Yahya worked hard to help his
nation," said the African Union's Somalia envoy, Mohammed Ali
Faum. "This underlines the importance of dialogue and not

The War-Torn Societies Project, a confliction resolution
group, said it was appalled by what it called a cowardly act.

"Yahya was a most dear member of our family who touched us
all with his dedication, intelligence, humility, courage and
commitment to peace in Somalia," it said.

The International Crisis Group think tank released a report
over the weekend identifying a new al Qaeda-linked group
working in Somalia.

The group is implicated in the killings of four aid workers
and 10 former police or military officers working in
counter-terrorism since 2003, ICG said.

Lawlessness continues to plague Somalia despite the
creation of an interim government last year, the 14th attempt
to restore effective central authority since dictator Mohamed
Siad Barre was ousted in 1991 and an era of anarchy began.

Tensions have been particularly high in Somalia of late.
The faction-riven interim government has returned home from
Kenya, where it was formed, but ministers and lawmakers are
split between Mogadishu and the provincial town of Jowhar.

(Additional reporting by Irwin Arieff in New York)