Somalis with al-Qa'ida link deny hotel blast

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The Independent Online

Somalia's Security Minister has blamed Islamist militants linked to al-Qa'ida for a bomb attack that killed 22 people at a university graduation ceremony at a hotel in the Somali capital.

Victims included medical students, doctors, journalists and three government ministers. Security Minister Abdullahi Muhammad Ali blamed al- Qa-ida through its affiliation with al-Shabaab, the most powerful insurgent group. But an al-Shabaab spokesman, Sheikh Ali Mohamud Rage, said: "We had nothing to do with the attack and we are very sad about it." He blamed the government.

Officials said the denial was because people "were on the verge of angry revolt against terrorists". The Prime Minister, Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke, called the bombing an outrage, killing "those whose only aim in life was to help those most in need in our stricken country". The President, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, is calling the bombing an "imported idea to prevent Somalia from achieving peace".