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Constitution Approved as Attack Thwarted
Constitution Approved by 96% as Two Suicide Bombers Attempt to Target Gathering
By MOHAMED ODOWA 08/01/2012
Assembly Approving Constitution
©AFP
Assembly Approving Constitution

Just as Somalia welcomed an historic day and ushered in a new era of governance by overwhelmingly approving the new Somali constitution after months of heated debate, the scene was marred by violence.

At least one Somali government soldier was killed and more than three others were reportedly injured in what seemed to be suicide attacks targeted at the General Kaahiye police station in HamarJajab district where over 825 delegates, including the country’s constituent assembly and tribal elders, were meeting over the last eight days to debate and vote on the new draft constitution, witnesses and officials on Somalia Report on Wednesday at morning.

Somali security forces shot two suicide bombers outside of the compound as the attackers were attempting to enter inside the General police Station compound where the conference was taking place. There were no details on whether the wounded included foreigners like the African Union Peacekeeping forces (AMISOM) in the area.

Initial information obtained by Somalia Report indicate the attackers were two suspected al-Shabaab fighters who were pretending to be delegates just in order to confuse the security forces at the one of the first frontline checkpoints but the two men were shot to death after attempted to pass forcefully into the hall without identifying themselves.

An elder who is participating in the meeting who asked not be named spoke to Somalia Report. "I was not far from the checkpoint where the TFG forces were checking everyone entering into the conference’s hall by asking his or her for identity card."

“I saw an ambulance evacuating some wounded Somali government soldiers to hospitals and I do not know whether civilians were among the wounded. But I saw the bodies of the suicide bombers with my own eyes in this morning. They were two men and were shot several times by the forces,” said the elder.

However the interior minister who also serves as a security minister, Abdisamad Ma’alin Mohamud, told reporters that the Somali forces thwarted the suicide bombers who were wearing with explosive vests in the morning.

"I give thanks to the Somali security forces and police force that prevented from these attacks. Two suicide bombers were shot dead in an attempted attack on this tented site before the attackers set off the explosions," the interior minister told local reporters.

"In this incident no serious harm was caused to anyone else and only the suicide attackers were killed," a senior security official told Somalia Report.

Al-Shabaab officials claimed responsibility for the attack.

Despite the attack, the new Somali constitution was passed by representatives of the Somali population who collectively are called the National Constituent Assembly. It will serve as an interim constitution for Somalia in the next five years.

645 of 825 members attended the meeting.

621 voted for the constitution
13 members voted against the constitution
11 members abstained from voting

“We are very happy today that you... responsibly completed the procedure by voting for the constitution,” Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali told the assembly.

The nine-day meeting is taking place amid tight security after the al-Qaeda linked al-Shabaab group vowed it will conduct attacks on the gathering. Vigilant armed soldiers of African Union Peacekeepers (AMISOM) along with hundreds Transitional Federal Government (TFG) forces can be seen around the areas of General Kaahiye police station.

Security in the capital has been intense just for the gathering. All the roads to the meeting area are blocked and there are far more checkpoints by the allied forces. Extra forces have also been seen today on the streets near the area and no one is able to enter inside the hall without having identity cards.