A suicide bomb attack on the newly reopened Somali National Theater in Mogadishu has killed at least eight people, including two top sports officials. The Islamist militant group al-Shabab has claimed responsibility for the attack.
VOA was on the scene when the explosion occured:
Witnesses said a female suicide bomber blew herself up inside the theater Wednesday as Prime Minister Abdiwelli Mohammed Ali began addressing the audience.
He and other top officials in the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) were participating in a ceremony marking the first anniversary of the Somali national television station.
The heads of Somali Olympic committee, Aden Yabarow Wiish, and the Somali football federation, Said Mohamed Nur, were killed in the attack. Several ministers and journalists were among those wounded.
Later, speaking on government-run Radio Mogadishu, Prime Minister Ali described the attack as a cowardly act. He said "whatever has happened today will not stop the government from achieving its goal of bringing peace and stability to the country."
He said it is normal that international terrorists and al-Shabab come back and kill innocent people whenever they are defeated in the battlefield. As a government, he said "we will fight with them until we finish them."
Al-Shabab said it had planted explosives at the theater, and denied that a female suicide bomber had been deployed.
The attack came just as life appeared to be getting back to normal in the Somali capital, after African Union forces drove al-Shabab militants from the city last year.
But the al-Qaida-linked group has claimed responsibility for some isolated attacks in the capital, including a suicide bombing outside the presidential palace last month that killed four people.