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Islamist Suicide Bombing Kills Somali Star International–Soccer Used as Tool to Prevent Child Soldiers

[from BleacherReports.com]

By James M. Dorsey/(Correspondent) on February 23, 2011

Soccer star killed in Islamist suicide bombing in war-torn Somalia
USAF/Getty Images

An Islamist suicide bombing that killed a star international on war-torn Somalia’s U-20 soccer team and wounded two other players constitutes a setback for the squad as well as efforts by the country’s football federation to lure child soldiers with the prospect of a soccer career away from the Islamist militia.

The attack is likely to figure prominently when FIFA President Sepp Blatter meets Somali Football Federation (SFF) president Said Mahmoud Nur on Thursday at a Confederation of African Football (CAF) gathering in the Sudanese capital Khartoum. FIFA supports the SFF campaign that has succeeded in turning hundreds of Somali youngsters recruited by the militia into soccer players.

The three players were targeted by the suicide bomber when they walked home earlier this week from training in a heavily fortified police academy in Hamar Jajab District, an area of several blocks in the bullet-scarred Somali capital of Mogadishu controlled by the US-backed Transitional Federal Government (TFG) rather than the Islamist insurgents of Al Shabab, an Al Qaeda affiliate.

Under-20 international Abdi Salaan Mohamed Ali was among 11 people killed when the suicide attacker rammed his van packed with explosives into a police checkpoint. Players Mahmoud Amin Mohamed and Siid Ali Mohamed Xiis were two of the 40 people injured. Abdi Salaan was widely viewed as one of Somalia’s best young players.

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