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Al Shabab blamed for Somalia bombing. Is Al Qaeda's influence rising?

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.

An attendant at the Shamo Hotel is seen next to the site of a bomb explosion in Mogadishu, Somalia, Thursday.

Farah Abdi Warsameh/AP

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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.

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