Govt ministers killed in Somalia blast

Thursday 03 December 2009 16.32
Somalia - Bomb exploded at graduation ceremony
Somalia - Bomb exploded at graduation ceremony

A suicide bomber has killed at least 19 people, including three Somali government ministers, at a graduation ceremony in a Mogadishu hotel.

The Shamo Hotel was packed with graduates from Benadir University, their parents and officials when the powerful explosion happened.

Health Minister Qamar Aden Ali, Education Minister Ahmed Abdulahi Waayeel and Higher Education Minister Ibrahim Hassan Addow died in the explosion.

Government officials said Sports Minister Saleban Olad Roble has been critically injured.

The African Union peacekeeping force AMISOM confirmed that the blast was caused by a suicide bomber.

More than 40 people have been wounded, including the dean of Benadir's medical college.

Medical student Mohamed Abdulqadir said: 'A lot of my friends were killed. I was sitting next to a lecturer who also died.

'He had been speaking to the gathering just a few minutes before the explosion.'

Dubai-based al-Arabiya Television said one of its cameramen, Hasan al-Zubair, has been killed.

Suspicion for the blast immediately fell on the al-Shabaab group.

It also struck at the main AU military base in Mogadishu with two suicide car bombs in September, killing 17 peacekeepers.