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UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Wednesday 4 May 2005

SOMALIA: Death toll in stadium explosion rises to 15

NAIROBI, 4 May 2005 (IRIN) - The number of people killed in Tuesday's blast at a stadium in Mogadishu, the Somali capital, has risen to 15, sources told IRIN on Wednesday.

The director of Mogadishu's Madina hospital, Shaykhdon Salad Ilmi, said a number of people had died from injuries caused by the explosion.

Of the 41 people brought to Madina hospital, Ilmi said, "six died of their injuries, while another one died in another hospital".

The explosion happened at a football stadium where the Somali transitional Prime Minister, Ali Muhammad Gedi, was addressing a public rally on his first visit to Mogadishu since being appointed by President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed in December 2004.

Gedi arrived in Mogadishu on 29 April accompanied by a team of ministers, legislators and members of the international community.

"A hand grenade was accidentally dropped by a member of the security detail, which then went off as the Prime Minister started his speech," Abdi Hassan Qaybdid, a senior security official in Mogadishu, told IRIN by telephone.

Gedi's communications director, Hussein Jabiri, had on Tuesday told IRIN in Nairobi that the explosion was caused by a bomb.

Qaybdid said 50 injured people were still being treated at various hospitals in the city.

Thousands of people who had turned up to listen to the prime minister fled the stadium in panic as the explosion went off. Qaybdid said a number of people were trampled by the crowd.

Eyewitnesses said Gedi had received an enthusiastic welcome from the public and a show of support from militiamen allied to the country's faction leaders.

The government spokesman, Abdirahman Dinari, told IRIN the aim of the trip was "to hold discussions with members of his government and MPs who are already in Mogadishu".

Some 80 members of the 275-strong parliament are in Mogadishu in an effort to stabilise the city. Among them are former faction leaders turned cabinet ministers, including the minister of national security, Muhammad Qanyare Afrah, the minister of commerce, Muse Sudi Yalahow, the minister of housing and public works, Usman Hasan Ali Atto, and the 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.

Gedi, who was scheduled to leave Mogadishu on Wednesday, had postponed his departure and was visiting the injured in hospital, a member of his delegation told IRIN.

"The prime minister was at Madina hospital this morning [Wednesday] visiting the injured and offering whatever assistance he could give," Shaykhdon told IRIN.


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