Nurse killed

 

Thursday's explosion came a day after armed men killed Mohamed Muse Ali, 40, a nurse working with the US charity International Medical Corps (IMC) and his rental driver in El-Berde, about 400km northwest of Mogadishu.

  

"He was returning to his house from [his] office when armed men shot him," Mohamed Ahmed, an IMC officer in the nearby Hodur township, said.

  

In a statement, the IMC mourned the loss of both victims.

  

"We are deeply concerned about the deteriorating security environment in the area and urge the international community to address the situation with the highest degree of priority," the charity said.

 

Chaos rules

 

Somalia has been without a functioning central authority since 1991 when ruler Mohamed Siad Barre was ousted.

 

It touched off a bloody  power struggle that has defied attempts to restore stability.

  

Efforts by the nearly three-year-old interim government to exert control over Mogadishu have been hindered by the near-daily attacks against its officials, Ethiopian troops and African Union peacekeepers.

  

Ethiopian troops backed Somali forces to drive out fighters from the Islamic Courts Union at the start of the year, and their continued presence has angered many Somalis.

  

In Addis Ababa, Meles Zenawi, Ethiopian prime minister, said the surge in attacks had delayed the withdrawal of his troops.

  

"We had reached the final phase of withdrawal from Somalia, but as insurgents regrouped under anti-peace elements' support, our  withdrawal and full AU deployment is impossible for the time being," he told parliament.