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Page last updated at 11:42 GMT, Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Fifa offers sympathy to Somalia

Somali coach Abdi Farah Ali
Somalia, seen here preparing for December's Cecafa Cup in Tanzania, are one of Africa's lowest-ranked nations

Fifa President Sepp Blatter has offered sympathy to Somalia after one of the country's best young players was killed by a suicide bomber in Mogadishu.

Under-20 international Abdi Salaan Mohamed Ali was among 10 people killed when a car bomb exploded on Monday.

Two other players, Mahmoud Amin Mohamed and Siid Ali Mohamed Xiis, were among 35 people injured.

Blatter wrote to Somali federation chief Said Mahmoud Nur "with a sad heart, having learned of the tragedy".

"On behalf of Fifa ... I wish to extend our condolences to you, the Somalian football community and, most importantly, all family, friends and loved ones of the victims," the Fifa chief added.

"Please let them know that today, the football community stands by their side."

Ali died after being struck by the blast following a training session near the police academy which was targeted by the bomber, while Mohamed and Xiis were wounded as they walked home.

Ali had become a key player for Dakadaha, a championship team based in Somalia's capital.

"His death saddened all of us. He was a young, energetic and skilful player," said Dakadaha's team secretary Abdullahi Bashir Nur.

"Everyone will remember him for his courtesy and intelligence," he added.

A militant Islamic group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

"On behalf of the entire family of Somali football I am sending my heartfelt condolence to the families, relatives and friends of the slain football player Abdi Salaan Mohamed Ali," said Nur in a statement.

"He was one of our best players and was recently added to the national U-20 squad."

The statement added that a book of condolence has been opened at the Somali Football Federation's headquarters in Mogadishu where thousands have already conveyed their sadness.

"We are committed to continuing our duty in the war-torn country until we meet death," the president said in his statement on Monday.

Blatter and Nur are likely to meet this week, with both scheduled to attend the Confederation of African Football's general assembly in Sudan on Wednesday.

Somalia are one of Africa's weakest footballing nations, ranked 176th in the world by Fifa, and without an Africa Cup of Nations appearance to their name.

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