Grenade attack wounds 24 in northern Somalia


Unidentified attackers hurled a hand grenade into a crowd watching a film in Bossaso port in northern Somalia, wounding at least 24 people, witnesses and medical officials said.

Most of the victims were from neighbouring Ethiopia, which sent thousands of troops to Somalia at the end of 2006 to oust an Islamist movement. Bossaso is in semi-autonomous Puntland, which has been relatively quiet compared to the rest of Somalia.

Eyewitness Mohamed Haji said dozens of people had gathered to watch a movie at a makeshift cinema when the blast struck.
"The explosion hit the room where they were watching the film," he told Reuters.
"Most of the victims were Ethiopians and most of them are in a serious condition."

Hundreds of Ethiopians live in Puntland, where violence has been increasing. Last month, unidentified gunmen shot dead a local member of parliament and an influential judge who had jailed pirates and hardline al Shabaab rebels.

Ahmed Muse, a nurse at Bossaso hospital, confirmed that most of the wounded from Tuesday’s attack had been badly hurt. Puntland officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

Puntland is a major base for pirates who have been terrorising the strategic shipping lanes off the Horn of Africa. Experts say the region is also home to organised criminal gangs, including money counterfeiters and human traffickers.