Top sports officials killed in Somalia bomb attack

National theatre blast, blamed on Islamic extremists, shatters hopes of recovery in Mogadishu

Hopes of a recovery in Mogadishu after decades of war were today set back by a bomb attack on the national theatre that killed two of Somalia’s top sports officials.

The bombing, which was later claimed by Islamic militants al-Shabaab, ripped through the first birthday party for the restored state broadcaster, leaving the president of Somalia´s national football federation and its Olympic chief dead and killing at least eight others.

The blast marked the end of a period of comparative peace in the Somali capital that has followed the militants' withdrawal from the city in August last year. Al-Shabaab has insisted its retreat from Mogadishu is tactical and has vowed to continue a bombing campaign after being pushed out by African Union troops during last year’s famine.

The explosion at the theatre, the reopening of which a fortnight ago was seen as a symbol of the city’s re-emergence, is the latest in a long line of attacks on cultural, sporting and educational targets.

Two-and-a-half years ago a suicide bomber killed 22 people at a ceremony honouring the country’s first medical school graduates since Somalia collapsed into civil war in 1991. The slaughter of badly needed young doctors prompted the first public protests against al-Shabaab.

The group’s biggest attack beyond the Somali borders came on the night of the soccer World Cup final as twin bomb blasts killed 79 people in the Ugandan capital, Kampala. The militants said the attack was revenge for the presence of Ugandans in the AU force that has protected the internationally recognised Somali government since it returned from exile.

The reopening of the national theatre with a concert last month was one of a number of tentative signs of normal life in a shattered coastal city that has been contested by warlords, foreign troops and dozens of militia groups for more than two decades. Mogadishu´s fish market has come back to life in recent months and the trickle of images from the city now includes football on the beach and pasta-eating competitions, as well as street battles and bomb sites.

But today the bodies of several of the key figures in the recent revival were carried out beneath the theatre’s scarred façade, already marked by the stray shells of previous battles. Inside witnesses said that the blast had splattered blood on the walls and sliced chairs in half. Among the dead was Said Mohamed Nur whom friends have credited with reviving football in Somalia after a long period in which the national stadium was used as a barracks for the militants in their battle for the city with the UN-backed Transitional Federal Government (TFG).

The football federation has recruited former fighters and begun to restore pitches and restart leagues. Earlier this week it reached out to other regions in the deeply divided country in an effort to restart a national league. The International Olympic Committee condemned the attack and paid tribute to the football chief and his Olympic counterpart, Aden Yabarow Wiish: “Both men were engaged in improving the lives of Somali people through sport and we strongly condemn such an act of barbarism.”

Authorities initially said the attack had been carried out by a female suicide bomber but a spokesman for al-Shabaab said the bomb had been planted in advance of the event.

While Mogadishu has enjoyed a period of relative calm, war rages on across central and southern Somalia. Neighbours Ethiopia and Kenya have invaded different parts of the country, ostensibly to battle al-Shabaab, which has been pushed back into a shrinking area around the port city of Kismayo. In the continuing chaos, pirate and kidnap gangs have flourished by hijacking ships and snatching hostages from across the border in Kenya. A major summit in London in February agreed fresh military and development aid but critics remain unconvinced by the TFG which has been riven by corruption and power struggles and has made little headway in improving people’s lives on the ground.

Tommy Ramone performing at The Old Waldorf Nightclub in 1978 in San Francisco, California.
peopleDrummer was final surviving member of seminal punk band
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

Mario Balotelli, Divock Origi, Loic Remy, Wilfried Bony and Karim Benzema
transfersBony, Benzema and the other transfer targets
Yaya Touré has defended his posturing over his future at Manchester City
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Spectators photograph the Tour de France riders as they make their way through the Yorkshire countryside
voicesHoward Jacobson: Line the streets for a cycling race? You might just as well watch a swarm of wasps
Life and Style
lifeHere's one answer to an inquisitive Reddit user's question
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Detail of the dress made entirely of loom bands
Life and Style
There were mass celebrations across Argentina as the country's national team reached their first World Cup final for 24 years
transfersOne of the men to suffer cardiac arrest was 16 years old
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
German supporters (left) and Argentina fans
world cup 2014Final gives England fans a choice between to old enemies
A mugshot of Ian Watkins released by South Wales Police following his guilty pleas
peopleBandmates open up about abuse
Basketball superstar LeBron James gets into his stride for the Cleveland Cavaliers
sportNBA superstar announces decision to return to Cleveland Cavaliers
Javier Mascherano of Argentina tackles Arjen Robben of the Netherlands as he attempts a shot
world cup 2014
Four ski officials in Slovenia have been suspended following allegations of results rigging
sportFour Slovenian officials suspended after allegations they helped violinist get slalom place
14 March 2011: George Clooney testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing titled 'Sudan and South Sudan: Independence and Insecurity.' Clooney is co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project which uses private satellites to collect evidence of crimes against civilian populations in Sudan
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

C# Developer (HTML5, JavaScript, ASP.NET, Mathematics, Entity)

£30000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

C# Integration Developer (.NET, Tibco EMS, SQL 2008/2012, XML)

£60000 - £80000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Integration...

Biztalk - outstanding opportunity

£75000 - £85000 per annum + ex bens: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Biztalk Te...

Trade Desk Specialist (FIX, Linux, Windows, Network Security)

£60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Trade Desk Specialist (FIX, Linux, Windows...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice