At least nine Somali teenagers have been 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 confirmed.
The young footballers died when two mortars landed on a small stadium in the Wardhigley district on Wednesday during fighting and exchange of mortar fire between Somali government forces and Islamist militants.
“We are shocked by the brutal incident which we can describe as unjustifiable massacre against the entire family of Somali football and we are condemning the intolerable killing of the young footballers,” the Somali football federation president said Mahmoud Nur told reporters at Mogadishu airport on arrival from Djibouti where he escorted the Somali national football squad which defeated its Djiboutian counterpart Friday by one goal to nil.
“We have been happy with the success scored by our squad, but unfortunately with the death of those innocent teenagers we lost happiness,” the president stated.
“This is a sad news and our Somali football family will be mourning for the beloved young footballers we have missed today, I don’t know what more I can say but pray to Allah to rest them in his paradise Fardowsa,” president Said Mahmoud Nur added.
Residents say two mortars which hit on the stadium killed nine young soccer players on the spot and wounded 12 others. A girl who was passing nearby was also killed according to a resident Abdul Hakim Ahmed Yusuf.
Football is the most popular sporting event in Somalia, but the country’s international style football facility the Stadium Mogadishu is home to hundreds of Islamist fighters loyal to Al Shabab. Reconstruction of the second largest facility stadium Banadir is halted because of the daily armed confrontations in the Abdel Aziz district north east of the capital where the stadium is located.
The Somali football federation is now repairing a soccer stadium at the country’s political science university so that competitions can be held there.
Somalia has been without a functioning central government since the 1991 downfall of former military rule of the late dictator General Mohamed Siyad Barre.