Somali suicide bomber kills 10, including 2 ministers

Somali suicide bomber kills 10, including 2 ministers

under attack: A Somali university student who was injured in a suicide bomb attack during a graduation ceremony at a local hotel in Mogadishu, is carried by other students to a hospital on Thursday. AfP

The bomber struck in a part of Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital, that was thought to be relatively safe, though many Somalis fear hardline insurgents have infiltrated the security forces. According to witnesses and government officials, dozens of medical students gathered for a graduation ceremony at the Shamo Hotel, which was often where the few Westerners who visit Mogadishu would stay.

Four high-ranking government officials, including the ministers of health and education, were attending the ceremony, and witnesses said the ministers were killed, along with several Somali journalists and at least two surgeons in a country desperately short of doctors.

The attack, said Mohammed Aden, a Somali diplomat in Nairobi, “is very, very serious, really.” “It proves the aggressive power” the insurgents have, “and their determination to take over this country. They can easily go at the heart of the system,” he said, adding, “This will create a lot of panic for all the supporters of the government.”

Somalia is embroiled in civil war between a weak but internationally-backed transitional government and an extremist Islamist insurgency with ties to Al Qaeda. The country has been lawless and violent since 1991, when the central government collapsed.

The United States has been shipping arms to the transitional government in the hopes it can beat back the insurgents and reclaim territory. The government currently controls only a few city blocks in a country the size of Texas. Hard-core insurgents control much of the rest.

The most powerful Somali insurgent group is the Shabab, which the US has designated a foreign terrorist group. The Shabab have used suicide bombers many times before and vowed to destroy the transitional government. The Shabab are trying to rule all of Somalia with an austere version of Islam.

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