Suicide bombing at Somalia's national theater kills top sports officials
At least six people, including two of Somalia's top sports officials, were killed when a female suicide bomber attacked a ceremony at Mogadishu's national theater in an attack aimed at killing senior government officials.
Al Shabaab has claimed responsibility for the blast on Wednesday that killed the leaders of Somalia's soccer federation and Olympic committee. The bombing was also an apparent attempt to kill the prime minister as he gave a speech at an event to commemorate the first anniversary of the country's new satellite television channel.
The African Union said a female suicide bomber was responsible for the blast in the theater. Prosper Hakizimana, deputy spokesman for the AU's AMISOM force, said, "So far six died and 10 were injured, mostly civilians. The Prime Minister was speaking inside the theatre when the blast took place, but he is safe, unhurt."
A witness at the scene said corpses were strewn across the floor and some of the dead were still in their chairs. Ambulance workers were collecting the bodies. Sirens wailed as the injured were rushed to hospitals.
Al Shabaab said it had targeted government officials and lawmakers with explosives planted ahead of the event, but denied that it had used a suicide bomber.
Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, the spokesman for al Shabaab's military operations, said, "We were behind the theater blast. We targeted the infidel ministers and legislators, and they were the casualties of today."
While the prime minister escaped unharmed at least one minister and a member of parliament were wounded and the country's top sporting officials bore the brunt of the attack.
Kadija Dahir Aden, acting president of Somali athletics, said, "The government sent us four invitation cards. And of the four officials who went, two are dead and the other two injured. It is a black day. Many great people have died today."
She said the Somali Olympic Committee chairman, Aden Yabarow Wiish, and the president of the Somali Football Federation, Said Mohamed Nur, had died, while the deputy at the Olympic committee and the chairman for Somali boxing were both wounded.
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