News

    Deadly Suicide Blast Rips Through Hotel in Somalia

    The blast targeted a university graduation ceremony being attended by a number of government officials; at least 19 killed.

    A deadly hotel bombing in Mogadishu has killed at least 19 people, including three Somali Cabinet ministers.  Some reports say the death toll could be higher.  The blast targeted a university graduation ceremony being attended by a number of government officials.
     
    Mogadishu's Shamu Hotel was hosting a graduation ceremony for Banadir University.  Eyewitnesses tell VOA a suicide bomber gained access to the venue dressed as a woman, donning a full abaya and a veil.  

    The attacker was wearing an explosive strapped to his torso, but was not patted down by security.

    Former Islamic Courts Union members at the scene identified the bomber, whose head and face had been completely shaven, as a member of al-Shabab, the ultra-conservative militant Islamist group believed to have links to al-Qaida.

    Somali Health Minister Qamar Aden Ali, Education Minister Ahmed Abdullahi Waayeel, and Higher Education Minister Ibrahim Hassan Adow were killed in the attack on Hotel Shamo.  

    Adow served as the foreign secretary of the insurgent Islamic Courts Union when it took power in 2006.  The Somali minister for sports is also reported to be hospitalized and in critical condition.  

    Mohamed Mohamoud, an attending graduate of the ceremony, says he personally saw the remains of the health minister on the ground, as well as the corpses of other government officials.

    Two journalists, a reporter for Radio Shabelle and a cameraman with al-Arabia TV, were also found dead from the explosion.  The National Union of Somali Journalists has issued a statement condemning the attack and expressing outrage at the loss of their colleagues.

    Somalia is one of the world's most dangerous places for journalists to work.  Eight have been killed in Somalia since the beginning of 2009.

    Hotel Shamo is often chosen by government officials to host events and at one time was a popular lodging option for foreign journalists.  Recently-released Canadian journalist Amanda Lindhout and Australian photojournalist Nigel Brennan were staying at the hotel before their capture last year.

    The hotel security staff say that they were kicked out of the room prior to the ceremony, as government security officials wanted sole handling of the event.  The government officials were attending the graduation of 43 students from the local Banadir University.   

    The attack is the latest in a string of incidents linking al-Shabab to common insurgent tactics used by Islamist terrorist groups in other parts of the world.  Until recently suicide bombings were an alien practice in Somalia.

    In September, al-Shabab claimed responsibility for a bold attack on a meeting between government officials and the African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia, known as AMISOM, which killed 17 peacekeepers, including the top Burundian commander.  Two vehicles containing explosives were given entry to the AMISOM base and subsequently blew up.

    The rebel group is battling for control of the war-ravaged nation against the Western-backed Transitional Federal Government, led by former Islamic insurgent Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed. Rebel groups control much of southern and central Somalia, as well as significant portions of the capital city, Mogadishu.

    The government is being bolstered by the continuing presence of the peacekeeping force composed of Ugandans and Burundians. The AMISOM forces are mandated with the protection of key city sites such as the airport, seaport, and presidential palace.  

    The official death toll from the blast is expected to continue to rise, with some reports indicating that more than 60 people have been found dead.  

     

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Borderi
    X
    July 22, 2016 12:30 AM
    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.
    Video

    Video Number of Syrian Refugees Arriving in US Jumps

    The United States is committed to resettling 85,000 refugees from around the world by October. Of that number, 10,000 will come from Syria and already some 4,000 Syrian refugees have arrived in the United States, many of them settling in the state of Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from Chicago, their arrival is not the end of a difficult journey to find peace and stability.
    Video

    Video Rio’s Trams Await Olympic Tourists

    Over the past century, many cities around the world replaced electric trams, prone to breakdowns and backups, with faster and more spacious buses. But for some reason restored antique trams are a huge tourist attraction. So it’s no wonder the authorities in Rio de Janeiro are busy restoring their city’s old tram line ahead of the Summer Olympic Games. VOA’ George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora