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Explosion Kills Three Soccer Players in Somalia's Kismayo


A map of Somalia showing the location of Kismayo.

At least three soccer players were killed, and six others injured in an explosion Friday in the southern Somali port town of Kismayo, a police officer confirmed.

Mohamed Guled Hassan, deputy commander of Jubaland regional police forces, told VOA Somali that the blast was caused by a bomb planted on a bus carrying a local soccer team.

The bomb was “apparently planted on the bus carrying young players on their way to attend a soccer tournament, which was opening in the town. Three of them were killed and six others were hospitalized for injuries,” said Hassan.

No group has so far claimed responsibility for the attack, but the police commander has placed the blame on Somali militant group al-Shabab.

“This heinous attack against young innocent players is another evidence of the terrorists’ enmity against the lives of Somali youth,” read a short statement on Twitter from Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo.

The motive for the attack was unknown. The attack came a day after the Jubaland State assembly met in Kismayo and elected four members of the country’s upper house of parliament. Al-Shabab has threatened to attack anyone involved in the election process.

Elections

The vote Thursday was a crucial a first step toward a new parliament and president in Somalia. The voting was held in a highly secured venue in Kismayo, which was once a stronghold for the al-Shabab terror group.

“We have held the election of four members of our eight seats in the Somalia Upper House today. It was a very successful step taken forward,” said the chairman of the Jubaland State electoral commission, Siyad Mohamed Mursal.

Somalia does not have one person, one vote elections. The country’s powerful clans will choose members of the lower house of parliament, while state assemblies will elect members of the upper house.

No dates have been set for the election of other lawmakers. The elections have been repeatedly postponed due to disagreements on the process between the government and opposition.

Speaking to VOA Somali, the chairman of Somali Federal Electoral Commission, Mohamed Hassan Irro, said Thursday’s election in Kismayo was a milestone.

“It was the beginning of a full success for our long-delayed elections. It was held under secure smooth and a democratic process. We hope that the other states in the country will do the same because process is on the right track despite the setbacks.” said Irro.

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