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Somali minister dies of wounds after suicide bomb

Last Updated: Saturday, February 13, 2010 - 16:31

Mogadishu: Somalia`s Sports Minister has died in hospital in Saudi Arabia weeks after he was critically wounded in a suicide bombing at a medical graduation ceremony in Mogadishu, relatives and officials said on Saturday.
Saleban Olad Roble passed away on Friday at a hospital in the Saudi capital Riyadh, where he and other victims of the December 3 blast at the Shamo Hotel had been flown for treatment.

Twenty-two people were killed, including three other government ministers -- education, higher education and health -- and 10 members of Benadir University`s faculty and students.

"We are arranging a state funeral," Mohamed Ali Nur, Somalia`s Ambassador to neighbouring Kenya, said. "We are still not sure whether his body will be carried back from Saudi Arabia. Our condolences go to his family and colleagues."

December`s bombing demonstrated once again the rebels` ability to strike the government at will, and stoked frustration in the country`s fragile administration over delayed pledges of military support and cash from Western donors.

The attack was carried out by a 26-year-old Danish man of Somali descent disguised as a veiled woman, and it was blamed on al Shabaab insurgents who profess loyalty to al Qaeda.

The European Union, Arab League, United States and others jointly denounced what they called a particularly "cold-blooded" attack on "young, enterprising Somalis (who) were marking what should have been a landmark occurrence in their young lives."

It was the worst strike by Somali militants since last June, when an al Shabaab suicide bomber killed the security minister and at least 30 other people at a hotel in Baladwayne town.

Western security experts say the failed Horn of Africa state has become a safe haven for hardliners, including foreign jihadists, who are using it to plot attacks across the region and beyond.

The country has had no effective central government for 19 years and the UN-backed administration of President Sheikh Ahmed Sharif controls just a few blocks of the capital. Fighting has killed at least 21,000 people since the start of 2007.

For weeks, the government has been promising to launch an offensive against al Shabaab and another rebel group, Hizbul Islam, which both want to impose a harsh version of sharia law.

Bureau Report

First Published: Saturday, February 13, 2010 - 16:31
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