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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Shabaab Sends Suicide Bomber to Wedding

Somalia’s Security Minister Is Killed by Suicide Bomb (Update3)

By Hamsa Omar

June 18 (Bloomberg) -- Somali Security Minister Omar Hashi Aden was among at least 50 people killed in a suicide-bombing that the al-Shabaab Islamist group, accused by the U.S. of backing al-Qaeda, said it carried out.

The attack happened at the Medina Hotel in central Somalia ahead of a wedding ceremony, Haji Mohamed Ibrahim, a clan elder in Beledweyne, said in a phone interview from the city. The blast killed 50 people and injured 100, al-Jazeera reported, without citing anyone.

“We killed many so-called government officers, including the so-called security minister,” Ali Mohamoud Rage, a spokesman for al-Shabaab, said in a teleconference today in the capital, Mogadishu. “As they were meeting in one of the hotels in Beledweyne, one of our holy martyrs exploded inside.”


Al-Qaeda has sent as many as 300 fighters to Somalia to support Islamists and warlords seeking to topple the government of President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s top political aide, Lynn Pascoe, told the Security Council last month.

The foreigners are training the al-Shabaab rebels and helping them mobilize funds and weapons, Nicolas Bwakira, the head of the African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia, said on May 22.
Al-Shabaab has been accused by the U.S. of providing safe- haven and logistical support to al-Qaeda, which aims to establish a caliphate, or Islamic government, in Somalia.
Ambassador Killed

Among other people killed in today’s attack was Abdikarin Hussein Farah Laqanyo, the former ambassador to neighboring Ethiopia, said Abdulkadir Mohamed Osman, director of information in the Somali presidency.

  • “We believe the attack was carried out by al-Qaeda and al- Shabaab,” Osman said by phone from the capital, Mogadishu.
  • Ibrahim, the clan elder who visited the hotel after the incident, said at least 17 people had been reported killed, without saying where he got the information from.

“It was a horrific incident because they were gathering at Medina Hotel for a wedding ceremony,” he said. “Many people died on the scene.”

Somalia is in its 18th year of civil war and hasn’t had a functioning central administration since the ouster of Mohamed Siad Barre, the former dictator, in 1991.

Last night, at least 13 people were killed in northern Mogadishu when a stray mortar shell hit a mosque during evening prayers amid clashes between Islamist fighters and government forces.

Earlier in the day, at least 15 people died in fighting between the two sides in the south of the city.

To contact the reporter on this story: Hamsa Omar in Mogadishu via Johannesburg at pmrichardson@bloomberg.net. Last Updated: June 18, 2009 09:14 EDT

The Rest @ Bloomberg

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