TWO Somali-based reporters were killed in a bomb blast that also claimed the lives of three government ministers during a university graduation ceremony in a Mogadishu hotel, writes Dennis Itumbi for journalism.co.za.
Two other journalists were seriously wounded in the explosion.
Bashir Khalif, a reporter for the Somali government's radio service and Somali Journalists Union Secretary General Omar Faruk Osman have confirmed the development in separate radio interviews.
"Yes, that's trueÃƒâ€šÃ‚Â I have spoken to at least one of the journalists at the scene and a few other officials and I can now confirm we have lost two journalist and the other two are in hospital receiving medication," Faruk said in a phone interview.
The death toll was collaborated by a police spokesman Col. Abdilahi Hassan Barise, who was quoted by the Associated Press saying, "in total nine people died".
Reached by phone, Information Minister Dahir Mohamud Gelle said, "one of the journalists who died had actually spoken to me Wednesday and I am sorry for the families affected, it was a big disaster for us and we will get answers as to why anyone would want to target innocent students."
Forty-three medical, computer science and engineering students had gathered to receive their diplomas at the ceremony at the Shamow Hotel, which isÃƒâ€šÃ‚Â in the small patch of Mogadishu that is held by Somalia's weak central government. The ministers for education, higher education and health were killed in the blast,while the ministers for sports and tourism were wounded.
The university was established in 2002 by a group of Somali doctors who wanted to promote higher education in a country where doctors have become the victims of the seemingly endless violence.
The university's website says the school has more than 500 students andÃƒâ€šÃ‚Â "strives to establish an open system of innovation and critical thinking similar to that in the developed countries."