Ex-Somalia soccer team goalkeeper shot dead outside a mosque
MOGADISHU, Somalia - Unknown gunmen shot dead renowned ex-Somalia soccer team player Abdiwali Gatamow on Thursday, officials in Afgoye town confirmed, in a shocking attack which took place outside a mosque.
The 40-year-old retired footballer was had participated in Tarawih prayers shortly before his unprecedented elimination within the fragile Afgoye town in Lower Shebelle, a region synonymous with frequent battles between government troops and Al-Shabaab militants.
While the number of gunmen would not be immediately established, multiple witnesses intimated that they were armed with pistols. The assailants fled the scene minutes after the assassination of the soccer star, reports indicate.
"Gaatamoow was killed in a mosque while he was praying Tarawih. May Allah Rest his soul in the highest position in Janah," Afgoye district official updates noted, recalling his lucrative career with the Ocean Stars in recent years.
Born Abdiweli Olad Qanyare, the retired footballer had been coaching Mogadishu City Club which is funded by the city's municipality. But at the time of his death, he's been running a Ramadhan soccer tournament in his Afgoye home town, officials said.
The motive behind his killing is not yet known. Such deaths in recent months have been attributed to Al-Shabaab militants and rogue government officials, but it's difficult to tell who pulled the trigger this time around.
Due to his long-spanning career in soccer affairs, the Ocean Stars appointed him as the goalkeeper coach for the National Youth Football team, which is part of the government agenda to nurture youngsters in the early stages of their careers.
Sports officials in Mogadishu paid tributes to the slain footballer, terming him "visionary" and "focused" nationalist who was keen to nurture young talents for the sake of uplifting the Somali soccer. They called for quick investigations and prosecution of perpetrators.
Ahmed Said Ahmed, the current captain of the national team, termed the death as "tragic setback" in the history of Somalia football. He added, "we cannot take chances, the government must establish the motive of his killing".
Similar sentiments were echoed by Mohamud Ali, a player for the national team who grew up in Manchester, arguing that "soccer preaches peace, soccer is not violent, his killers must be brought to justice".
The Somalia football team is lowly ranked by FIFA, which places it at 208 of the 211 nations. But in September last year, the team pulled a shock in Djibouti when it frogmarched heavyweights Zimbabwe by a solitary goal in World Cup qualifications played in Djibouti.
The development of soccer in Somalia has been undergoing setbacks due to frequent Al-Shabaab attacks, coupled with abductions and paranoia. But despite that, the federal government has constructed a big modern stadium in the capital, Mogadishu.
His death comes just a few days after Bana Abdalla Ali, a Somali basketball legend and the games' enthusiast, died in London. Abdalla, who was a continental household name, succumbed to Coronavirus virus, British media reported.
The Al-Shabaab militants are yet to claim responsibility for the attack, and it's treated as normal violence. But in previous outings, the militants have used a similar style to eliminate those it perceives as government and Western military spies.
Lower Shebelle has played host to major battles in recent months. For instance, Somali National Army [SNA] buoyed by the AMISOM and American troops, seized the agricultural-rich Janaale town from the militants in March.