Militant group al-Shabab says it was behind a suicide bombing in Somalia’s capital Wednesday that killed at least eight people, including the country’s football and Olympic chiefs.
The attack occurred at the newly-reopened national theater in Mogadishu, which has symbolized Somalia’s push to restore security and stability after more than two decades of chaos.
Authorities say a female blew herself up as Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali addressed a crowd gathered to celebrate the first anniversary of Somali National Television.
A VOA reporter captured audio of the powerful blast.
The prime minister later confirmed to VOA that a woman carried out the attack and described the bombing as “al-Shabab’s act of terror.”
“After they have been defeated in face-to-face fighting, they have started killing innocent people,” he said.
The blast killed the head of the Somali Olympic committee, Adan Haji Yabarow Wiish, and football federation chief Said Mohamed Nur.
The Somali National Theater re-opened after more than 20 years last month, less than a year after pro-government forces regained control of the capital from al-Shabab.
The al-Qaida-allied group has continued to carry out strikes inside Mogadishu and vowed to keep up its fight to overthrow the transitional government, which is backed by the United Nations.
Al-Shabab continues to control significant parts of southern and central Somalia.
East African nations consider the group an regional threat and within the last year both Kenya and Ethiopia have sent troops into Somalia to fight the insurgency.