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Ambulances are parked outside the Mogadishu National Theatre on Wednesday after a suicide attack in the Somali capital. A young woman strapped with explosives blew herself up on at a ceremony in the Somali national theater attended by the prime minister and other officials. (AFP/Getty Images)

Theater Bombing In Mogadishu Breaks Tenuous Calm In Somalia

by Eyder Peralta
Apr 4, 2012

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Just as things had begun to seem peaceful in the Somali capital, a bomb exploded in the newly reopened National Theater. And it happened as the prime minister gave an address.

The New York Times reports that the bombing shattered what had been a tenuous calm in Mogadishu, which has been the center of a fierce civil war for the past 21 years.

Officials said the blast as caused by a female suicide bomber and Al-Shabaab, a radical Islamist insurgent group, claimed responsibility for the attack on Twitter.

"This operation wasn't carried out by female as they allege but everything was carefully planned & orchestrated by specially trained unit," the group said on Twitter.

The Times adds:

"The blast came amid significant signs of improvement in the capital, Mogadishu, a rubble-filled city ravaged by 21 years of civil war. Mogadishu has been enjoying a prolonged period of relative peace, preserved in part by 10,000 African Union troops, soon to be increased to 17,000, who patrol the streets in tanks and armored personnel carriers.

"Hundreds of thousands of residents have returned in recent months, aid groups said, fueling an economic boom that has created thousands of jobs and has begun to draw young men away from violence. Construction is taking place across the city, yielding new hospitals, homes, shops and a hotel."

The blast, reports Reuters, killed at least four people, including "the heads of Somalia's soccer federation and Olympic committee in yet another stark reminder of the fragile security in the capital Mogadishu."

Reuters adds that the National Theater reopened March 19 and it had become a symbol of a country that seemed to be turning a corner. "Somali musicians staged a concert in the bullet-riddled building for the first time in 20 years," Reuters reports.

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