Three government ministers were among at least 19 people killed by a bomb in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu. They were the female Health Minister Qamar Aden Ali, the Education Minister Ahmed Abdulahi Waayeel, and the Higher Education Minister Ibrahim Hassan Addow.
The bomb went off at the Shamo hotel during a graduation ceremony for students from Benadir University. Many of the victims were students and there were many injuries. Hundreds of people had packed into the hall for the ceremony – students, their parents and officials. The attack is thought to have been carried out by a suicide bomber who appears to have targeted Somali government members. The Shamo hotel is often used by the few foreigners such as aid workers and diplomats who still visit Mogadishu. Two journalists are also reported to have been killed. Security was said to have been light inside the ceremony, with the ministers’ bodyguards waiting outside. Witnesses said the bomber entered the event disguised as a veiled woman, and then listened to the speeches before approaching the podium and setting off the bomb. The UN-backed government controls only parts of the capital and little of the rest of the country. It is in a long-standing conflict with Islamist insurgents. Violence in the country has killed more than 19,000 people since the start of 2007 and uprooted 1.5 million. The government has pleaded with the United Nations to send a more robust peacekeeping force than the 5,000 or so African Union troops.