First Vice-president and Head of International Relations, Somali Sports Press Association
MOGADISHU, January 14, 2010 - Nine Somali teenagers were killed by mortar fire while they were playing a football game at a village stadium in the Wardhigley district in Mogadishu Wednesday, the Somali Football Federation (SFF) has confirmed.
The young footballers died when two mortar rounds landed in the small stadium during fighting and exchange of mortar fire between Somali government forces and Islamist militants. Twelve others were injured in the attack.
“We are shocked by this brutal incident which we can only describe as an unjustifiable massacre against the entire family of Somali football. We condemn the intolerable killing of the young footballers,” SFF President Said Mahmoud Nur told reporters at Mogadishu airport on his arrival from Djibouti where he had escorted the Somali national football squad which defeated its Djiboutian counterpart Friday by one goal to nil.
“We were happy with the success scored by our squad, but unfortunately with the death of those innocent teenagers we have lost our joy," the President stated.
“This is tragic news and the whole Somali football family will be mourn these beloeved young footballers. I don’t know what more I can say but pray to Allah to rest them in his paradise," Mahmoud Nur added.
Residents say that the nine footballers died instantly and another 12 were wounded. A girl who was passing nearby was also killed, according to a resident, Abdul Hakim Ahmed Yusuf.
Football is the most popular sport in Somalia, but the country’s only international style football facility Stadium Mogadishu is home to hundreds of Islamist fighters loyal to Al Shabab, while the reconstruction of the second largest facility stadium Banadir is on halt because of the daily armed confrontations in the Abdel Aziz district north east of the capital where the stadium is located.
The SFF is renovating a football stadium at the country’s political science university so that competitions can be held there. Somalia has been with out a functioning central government since the 1991 downfall of former military rule of the late dictator General Mohamed Siyad Barre.