Seven, including three ministers, killed in Somalia blast

December 3rd, 2009 - 7:18 pm ICT by IANS  

Mogadishu, Dec 3 (DPA) A bomb blast ripped through a hotel in the Somali capital Mogadishu Thursday, killing at least seven people, including three ministers.
A DPA correspondent at the scene said the apparent suicide attack took place during a graduation ceremony for dozens of university students at the Shamo Hotel.

Nobody claimed immediate responsibility for the blast, but Islamist insurgent group al-Shabaab has increasingly turned to suicide bombings as it battles to oust the weak Western-backed government

Officials confirmed that Health Minister Qamar Aden Ali, Higher Education Minister Ibrahim Hassan Addow and Education Minister Ahmed Abdulahi Waayeel were amongst the dead.

The Minister for Youth and Sports, Saleeban Olaad Roble, was seriously injured in the blast.

Dubai-based Al Arabiya Television said one of their cameraman was killed. A journalist with Somalia’s Radio Shabelle also died.

Witnesses told DPA they saw a man enter the building and detonate a device strapped to his body.

Dozens of guests, many of them bleeding, staggered from the partially destroyed building, while onlookers cried and condemned the attack.

“I don’t know why such people are targeted,” a distraught Mowliid Ahmed Abdulkadir, who survived the blast, told DPA outside the hotel.

The toll was expected to rise as the bodies of students, lecturers and guests were pulled from the hotel. Around 100 people were attending the ceremony for students from Banadir University.

Tension was high in the surrounding area after the attack, with soldiers and pro-government militia out in force.

Suicide bombings, generally alien to Somalia, have increased dramatically this year.

Seventeen members of the under-strength African Union peacekeeping force propping up the government died in a suicide blast at their main base in September.

Somalia’s Security Minister Omar Hashi Aden was among dozens killed in a suicide car bomb attack on a hotel in the central town of Baladweyne in June.

Al-Shabaab, which the US says has links to Al Qaeda, controls much of south and central Somalia.

Diplomats and AU officials say foreign fighters from Afghanistan and Pakistan are increasingly flocking to the lawless Horn of Africa nation to fight the government and attend training camps.

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