UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
SOMALIA: Eight killed as explosion disrupts Prime Minister's rally
NAIROBI, 3 May 2005 (IRIN) - At least eight people were killed and others injured on Tuesday when an explosion went off at a football stadium in Mogadishu, the Somali capital, where Prime Minister Ali Muhammad Gedi was addressing a public rally, sources at the scene told IRIN.
Hussein Jabiri, Gedi's communications director, told IRIN in Nairobi: "Yes, a bomb has exploded. One of the PM's security detail accidentally exploded a bomb. Neither the prime minister nor members of his delegation has been hurt."
The explosion went off as the prime minister started his speech, a local journalist said.
The journalist could not immediately tell how many people had been injured, but added: "I witnessed at least 20 injured people being carried out from the stadium."
Most of those killed or injured, he said, were militiamen who were standing near the site of the explosion.
Other sources told IRIN that "between 8 to 10 people were killed and between 30 and 50 injured." Most of the injured were taken to Hayat and Madina hospitals, both in south Mogadishu.
One source at Hayat hospital told IRIN that "38 people were brought into the hospital from the stadium", adding that 21 suffered minor injuries.
Another source told IRIN that a local journalist was among the injured. "A HornAfrik [a local radio station] journalist Mahamud Halane is in serious condition," said the source.
Thousands of people who had turned up to listen to the prime minister fled the stadium, "causing a stampede which injured many other people", the journalist added.
Gedi arrived in Mogadishu together with a team of ministers, MPs and members of the international community on 29 April. It was the first time the PM had visited the capital since his appointment by President Abdullahi Yusuf in December 2004.
He had received an enthusiastic welcome from the public and a show of support from militiamen allied to the country's faction leaders, according to eyewitnesses.
The aim of the trip was "to hold discussions with members of his government and MPs who are already in Mogadishu," Abdirahman Dinari, the government spokesman, told IRIN on Thursday.
Some 80 members of the 275-strong parliament are in Mogadishu in an effort to stabilise it. Among them are former faction leaders and current cabinet ministers, such as Minister of National Security Muhammad Qanyare Afrah, Minister of Commerce Muse Sudi Yalahow, Minister of Housing and Public Works Usman Hasan Ali Atto and Minister of Religious Affairs Omar Muhammad "Finish".
At the end of the visit, Dinari added, Gedi would try to persuade the MPs and ministers in Mogadishu to return with him to Nairobi "to facilitate the discussions on crucial issues such as the relocation of the government and the status of Mogadishu", and end a rift within his cabinet.
A senior political adviser to Gedi, Abdurahman Ali Usman "Malaysia", told IRIN in Nairobi that the incident would not affect the PM's trip. "He will continue with his visit and meet the people of Mogadishu," he said, adding that the PM had visited those injured by the explosion in the hospitals.
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