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Somalia Plays Down Mogadishu Blast


The Nation (Nairobi)- The Somali government yesterday played down the explosion which killed eight people and injured scores at Mogadishu stadium saying it was caused by a small bomb accidentally dropped by a militiaman.

At the same Prime Minister Ali Ghedi said he was not targeted in the blast which also injured 28 people and cut short a successful political rally convened for him at the stadium and attended by hundreds of city residents.

"The blast was purely accidental and not directed at me. I am very sorry for what happened and pray for those injured and the families of those killed," Prof Ghedi said in a press briefing through his spokesman Abdurahman Dinari

The militiaman was not in the security team but had accompanied one of the militia commanders to the stadium into which entry was not restricted. He accidentally dropped the bomb which was attached to the barrel of the AK-47 rifle as he adjusted a safety catch, the government explained.

The remarks contradict initial claims by certain individuals, some of them in government which indicated that the explosion occurred after a hand-grenade carried by an unknown attacker dropped after a securityman grabbed his hand to prevent him from throwing it at the Prime Minister who was addressing the crowd.

The number of the dead was ascertained by assistant health minister Prof Osman Mohammed Dufle who went to each of the hospitals where the injured were taken, Mr Dinari said.

However there were rumours that the number of the dead could be as high as fifteen with the number of the being about fifty. But Mr Dinari maintained: "The number of the dead is eight, the injured twenty eight - six o them serious. Any claim to the contrary is absolutely baseless".The eight were buried on Tuesday evening in line with Islamic traditions.

Yesterday Prof Gedi who has been in city since last Friday returned to the streets, visiting hospitals where the injured were receiving treatment and consoling large crowds of relatives. His visits took him to Hayaat and Madina hospitals and Children's Village, a charity home run by Italian missionary nuns.

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