MOGADISHU, Somalia — A suicide bomber disguised as a woman attacked a graduation ceremony, turning a rare reason to celebrate into carnage that killed at least 22 people — including medical students, doctors and three government ministers.
The blast was blamed on Islamic militants who have shown a rising ability to carry out sophisticated large-scale bombings against high-profile targets — and highlighted the inability of Somalia’s weak government to protect even the small section of the capital it controls.
“Today should have been a day of celebration — not mourning,” said Somalia’s ambassador to Kenya, Mohamed Ali Nur. “The hopes of many parents who eagerly awaited their sons’ graduation were recklessly dashed … cutting short the lives of ambitious Somalis.”
Several hundred people had gathered in the Shamo Hotel to watch the 43 medical, engineering and computer science students from Benadir University receive their diplomas when the blast ripped through the festively decorated ballroom.
Amateur video of the attack obtained by AP Television News showed the dead, including at least three journalists, lying in pools of blood amid the sound of wails and screams from the wounded. Soldiers, their AK-47 rifles slung over their shoulders, picked through the wreckage with their hands as survivors climbed over the debris of the bombed-out room.
The attack targeted one of Somalia’s most important efforts to extricate itself from anarchy and violence, explaining the presence of so many top government officials. The graduating medical students were only the second class to receive diplomas from the medical school. LIVE LEAK
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