At least three soccer players were killed and six others injured in an explosion in the southern Somali port city of Kismayo, a police officer confirmed.
Mohamed Guled Hassan, deputy commander of Jubaland regional police, told VOA Somali that the explosion was caused by a bomb on a bus with a local soccer team.
The bomb was “apparently placed on the bus that carried young players on the way to a football tournament that was opened in the city. Three of them were killed and six others were hospitalized for injuries, ”said Hassan.
So far, no group has taken responsibility for the attack, but the police commander has blamed the Somali militant group al-Shabab.
“This heinous attack on innocent young players is further evidence of the terrorists’ hostility to the lives of Somali youth,” said a brief statement on Twitter by Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo.
The motive for the attack was unknown. The attack came the day after the Jubaland State Assembly met in Kismayo and elected four MPs to the country’s upper house. Al-Shabab has threatened to attack anyone involved in the electoral process.
Thursday’s vote was a crucial first step towards a new parliament and president in Somalia. The vote took place in a highly secure location in Kismayo, which was once a stronghold of the al-Shabab terrorist group.
“We held the election of four members of our eight seats in the House of Lords of Somalia today. It was a very successful step forward, ”said the chairman of the Jubaland State Electoral Commission, Siyad Mohamed Mursal.
There are no one-person, one-vote elections in Somalia. The country’s powerful clans will elect members of the lower house of parliament, while the state parliaments will elect members of the upper house.
Dates for the election of further MPs are not set. Due to disagreements over the process between the government and the opposition, the elections were repeatedly postponed.
Speaking to VOA Somali, the chairman of the Somali Federal Electoral Commission, Mohamed Hassan Irro, said that Thursday’s elections in Kismayo were a milestone.
“It was the beginning of a complete success for our long postponed elections. It was held under safe, smooth and democratic processes. We hope that the other states in the country will do the same because the process is on the right track despite the setbacks, ”said Irro.