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Somalia: UN Proposes Green Zone-Style Base

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NAIROBI, Kenya — Three masked gunmen fatally shot a Somali aid worker Tuesday, as the U.N. envoy to Somalia said the United Nations should create a Baghdad-style Green Zone in the African country so he can base all his aid workers there.

The U.N. now keeps its international Somalia staff members in Kenya to shield them from the risk of attacks and kidnappings. In 2008, at least 13 aid workers were killed in Somalia, which has not had an effective government since 1991.

"It is very difficult to address (the) Somali situation from Nairobi (the Kenyan capital). I think it is even negative," the envoy, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, said during a news conference in Nairobi, Kenya. "We should have a Green Zone, if necessary, in Somalia."

Ould-Abdallah did not give a time frame for creating a fortified, walled-off area like the Green Zone in Iraq used by U.S.-led forces, but it would be costly and time-consuming.

Somalia is now at a dangerous crossroads. The president resigned in late December, saying he has lost most of the country to Islamic insurgents, and the Ethiopian troops who have been protecting the fragile, U.N.-backed government have begun pulling out, leaving a dangerous power vacuum. Islamic groups are starting to fight among themselves for power.

On Tuesday, three gunmen shot Ibrahim Hussein Duale, a 44-year-old Somali who was a school feeding monitor in the Gedo region of central Somalia, the U.N. World Food Program said. Duale leaves a wife and five children, the agency said in a statement.

Somalia has been beset by anarchy and an insurgency that has killed thousands of civilians and sent hundreds of thousands fleeing. Foreigners, journalists and humanitarian workers are frequently abducted for ransoms in the Horn of Africa nation, which the United States fears could become a haven for al-Qaida.

On Tuesday in the capital, Mogadishu, the spokesman for the small African Union peacekeeping force said an AU soldier was killed during a land-mine clearing operation.

The lawlessness also has allowed piracy to flourish off the coast. In northeastern Somalia, a regional security minister said France had handed over 19 Somali pirates to local authorities.

Ould-Abdallah said he hopes an upcoming parliamentary vote _ expected in Somalia by Jan. 28 _ to name a new president will not be corrupt like past votes that have been tainted by secret deals.

"Somalis have to work to expand their government, try to have a government of national unity and vote for a new president," Ould-Abdallah said.

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AP Writers Mohamed Olad Hassan and Salad Duhul contributed to this report from Mogadishu, Somalia.