Mogadishu blast kills eight, PM escapes unhurt

     Nairobi- Kenya (PANA) -- At least eight persons were killed and scores got injured on Tuesday by an explosion at a rally in a football stadium in Mogadishu being addressed by Prime Minister Ali Mohammed Ghedi, Somali government officials confirmed here.
      Somali Information Minister Mohammed Abdullahi Jama said the explosion went off as the Premier began his speech, though he was reportedly unhurt and rushed away.
Independent sources said two more people died on their way to hospital but their deaths were not confirmed.
       The explosion shocked hundreds of people gathered at the stadium to listen to Ghedi discuss plans to bring the government to Mogadishu and also to build support for his exiled government at home.
      "I was not at the scene but reports indicate that it was an accident.
some of the private security guards and militia guarding the Premier which he brought himself had all kinds of weapons including Bazookas and RPGs (rocket propelled grenades).
It exploded from one of the private security agents that was holding a Russian RPG right there and I think it was facing done and the shell was discovered on the spot," Jama told PANA on telephone from Mogadishu.
     "The Prime Minister is safe, there is no problem, the situation has been restored," he reiterated.
   According to the information minister, about 8 to 10 persons were killed and several others got injured in the explosion.
      Several thousand Somalis, who were listening to the speech, fled from the stadium, he said.
      Somali officials said the dead and wounded have been taken to local hospitals.
   "Security in Mogadishu is something which has always remained an issue.
I think in that public event it is a security nightmare because there are 50 gunmen and militia with their technicals and Bazookas and RPG," Jama noted.
       Ghedi's visit to Mogadishu is his first since becoming Prime Minister last year, although he has travelled to other parts of the anarchic country to promote public support for the transitional government's move from Nairobi.
     The prime minister who travelled to Mogadishu last Friday in a convoy of 70 vehicles, including jeeps mounted with anti-aircraft guns, known as technicals is meeting with the people of Mogadishu and "opinion leaders to disprove the notion that the Transitional Federal Government is reluctant to go to Mogadishu.
"      Meanwhile, UN officials in the mission said Ghedi hopes to persuade ministers and members of parliament to return to Kenya for further discussions on his plans for the relocation of the government.
     "It does not serve any purpose for them to convince the MPs to return to Kenya only to return to Somalia in a few weeks time," said  a Journalist who went to the war-battered capital with the UN officials, the MPs are reluctant to return," she added.
   Somali government, which includes several faction leaders, has been unable to relocate because of security concerns.
  On the other hand, it has come under increasing pressure from the Kenyan government and western diplomats to return to Mogadishu.
      Interim Somali President, Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, and Ghedi have said the government cannot function in Mogadishu until the city is pacified and secure.
      But several prominent former faction leaders demand the government to relocate to Somali capital.

03 may 2005 16:14:00

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