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5 Dead 25 Wounded In Kismayo Rally Explosion

An explosion in the Somali port city of Kismayo has killed at least five people and wounded twenty-five others. The explosion hit a rally in support of foreign peacekeepers, prompting government troops to fire into a crowd of thousands.

Mohad Elmi of Horn Afrik radio told VOA reporter Douglas Mpuga that the crowd had gathered at the city’s Freedom Park where a government official was expected to make a speech.

Mohad Elmi described the incident as chaotic. “A number of people were wounded as a result of the stampede as government forces opened fire. There were sporadic gunshots, people just scattered,” he said.

He added, “Government officials in Kismayo also confirm the injury of General Ahmed Mohamed and four army colonels. There was stampede as government forces fired into the crowd after the explosion.”

He said that so far, “there has been no claim of responsibility for the attack, but others suspect this to be a hit-and-run attack by the former members of the Islamic courts.”

The number of dead may increase because “ government forces have sealed off roads leading to the main hospital and the wounded are not getting treatment.”

Mohad Elmi said the presence of Ethiopian troops hasa sparked hostility amongst some Somalis and many even object to an African peace keeping force. “Here in Mogadishu people are upset about the presence of foreign troops and such attacks could jeopardize the planning deployment of African peace keeping forces to Somalia,” he said.

There were also reports of a fierce battle in the capital Mogadishu a day earlier on Friday between militias and Somali government troops where one person is confirmed dead and six wounded.