Washington, D.C., December 3, 2009 – A speaker at a graduation ceremony turned suicide bombing told Voice of America (VOA) that the "bodies of the dead…were scattered throughout the hall." VOA’s Somali service interviewed Professor Osman Mohamoud Dufle Thursday after he escaped the attack in the Somali capital of Mogadishu which killed more than 20 people, including three top Somali cabinet ministers.
Professor Dufle of Banadir University was addressing the graduates when the bomb went off. He told VOA that the bomber – disguised as a woman – detonated his suicide vest in the row of seats where the professor had been sitting before taking his place at a podium to speak to the graduating class.
"Most of the people who were sitting in the row of seats I myself was sitting in were killed," said the Professor Dufle. "Being a medical doctor, I began treating the injured immediately."
Somali service reporter Seynab Abukar was attending the ceremony and began filing radio reports and taking pictures immediately after the blast – the most serious ever against the current Somali government. "VOA’s Somali service provided comprehensive coverage of this tragedy through its team of over 20 stringers. This effort is part of VOA’s daily intensive coverage in a high priority country on radio, television and the Internet," said Gwen Dillard, Director of VOA’s Africa Division.
Among the dead are Ms. Qamar Adan Ali, the Somali Minister for Health, a frequent guest on VOA’s Somali service programs who was scheduled to appear on this Sunday’s call-in show, Ahmed Abdilahi Waayeel, Minister for Education, and Dr. Ibrahim Adow, Minister for Higher Education and a United States citizen, a former professor at American University in Washington. Two Somali journalists also were killed; one a reporter for Radio Shabelle and the other a cameraman for Al-Arabiya television.
VOA’s Somali service broadcasts three and half hours daily, targeting Somalia and the rest of the Horn of Africa. The broadcasts are also streamed on the Web at www.VOANews.com/Somali.
The Voice of America, which first went on the air in 1942, is a multimedia international broadcasting service funded by the U.S. Government through the Broadcasting Board of Governors. VOA broadcasts more than 1,500 hours of news, information, educational, and cultural programming every week to an estimated worldwide audience of more than 125 million people. Programs are produced in 45 languages and are intended exclusively for audiences outside of the United States.
For more information, please call VOA Public Relations at (202) 203-4959, or e-mail email@example.com.