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A suicide bombing at a Somali student graduation ceremony which killed three government ministers and at least 16 other civilians on Thursday bore Al Qaeda’s hallmark and further endangered the future of the country’s wobbling administration, analysts says.

A man strapped with explosives and disguised as a woman apparently gained free access to what was supposed to be one of the few parts of Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital, that was safe for the country’s government.

But Thursday’s strike appears to be the latest in a fresh offensive by Al Shabab, deploying tactics that Somalia-watchers say have been imported directly from Al Qaeda.

“It was a very loud explosion, very big, and afterwards there was dust and smoke everywhere and people screaming,” says one Somali graduate reached by phone, who gave his name only as Mohamed. “Two of my classmates were killed …. Everybody is in a lot of shock.”

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