An Al Shabab bomber killed 19 people at a graduation ceremony in Somalia and the Islamist group is getting training from Al Qaeda, say officials.
Farah Abdi Warsameh/AP
A suicide bombing at a Somali student graduation ceremony which killed three government ministers and at least 16 other civilians on Thursday bore Al Qaeda's hallmark and further endangered the future of the country's wobbling administration, analysts says.
A man strapped with explosives and disguised as a woman apparently gained free access to what was supposed to be one of the few parts of Mogadishu, Somalia's capital, that was safe for the country's government.
But Thursday's strike appears to be the latest in a fresh offensive by Al Shabab, deploying tactics that Somalia-watchers say have been imported directly from Al Qaeda.
US government officials are convinced that Osama bin Laden's terror organization is strengthening its links to its Somali proxy – in part by by sending trainers to the Horn of Africa to instruct new jihadists there.
Three ministers killed
Hundreds of medical students and their families had gathered for only the second graduation ceremony from the city's Benadir University in two decades.
"It was a very loud explosion, very big, and afterwards there was dust and smoke everywhere and people screaming," says one Somali graduate reached by phone, who gave his name only as Mohamed. "Two of my classmates were killed .... Everybody is in a lot of shock."
Qamar Aden Ali, the health minister, Ahmed Abdulahi Waayeel, the education minister, and Ibrahim Hassan Addow, the higher education minister, all died in the explosion. The sports minister, Saleban Olad Roble, was reported as critically injured.
Al Shabab links to Al Qaeda?