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Somali football fans burn kiosks built in football stadium
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Monday, January 26, 2009

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Mogadishu, Somalia (APA) -Hundreds of angry young Somali football fans went on the rampage on Sunday and burned down kiosks built in a football stadium in the southern key port town of Kismayo, while protesting against the use of the stadium as market, residents and eyewitnesses told APA.

The kiosks were built inside Waamo football stadium after Islamists loyal to the Al Shabab extremist group on Friday ordered women who sell the green narcotic leave imported from Kenya and known here as “Qat” to use the stadium as a market.

Ali Mohamed a resident in Kismayo told APA that hundreds of young men angered at the Islamists ruling to change the stadium into market burned kiosks and other small shops erected in the stadium on Saturday and Sunday.

“We are young men whose hobby is football so where will we go and play ball if the stadium is turned into a market that is something unacceptable,” 18 year old Awil Hassan Farah told APA by telephone from Kismayo on Monday.

“We are here to defend our stadium and fight against anyone who wants to prevent us from playing soccer,” the football addict teenager added.

Sheikh Hassan Yaqub Ali, the information secretary for the Islamist administration in Kismayo told APA on Monday that his administration will rethink the matter and take an alternative decision, although he refused to say whether they will totally ban sports or not.

Kismayo is a key strategic port town about 500 kilometres south of the capital and it has been under the control of Al Shabab Islamists since September last year.

In 2006, the Islamists who were controlling much of Somalia killed football fans, banned Somali women from engaging in sports and also arrested dignitaries including Somali karate and teakwondo federation president Aweys Mohamed Abati.

In mi-January 2009, the moderate Islamic Courts Union handed over the nation’s largest football facility Mogadishu Stadium back to the Somali Football Federation a day after the Ethiopian troops vacated from it which was their largest military base in Somalia for two years.

Source: APA, Jan 26, 2009