Somalis rally against al-Shabab Islamists and bombing

Hundreds of Somalis have taken to the streets of Mogadishu to protest against al-Shabab, the group held responsible for a deadly suicide attack last week.

Protesters burned the group's flag in what analysts say is an unprecedented show of anger at the militants, who control large parts of the country.

Although al-Shabab has been widely blamed for the atrocity, the group has issued a statement denying involvement.

Three government ministers were among some 22 people killed in the attack.

A suicide bomber disguised as a woman in a veil blew himself up at a graduation ceremony in the capital last Thursday.

Most of those killed were medical students. More than 60 people were injured.

Protesters marching through Mogadishu on Monday chanted slogans including "down with al-Shabab" and "we don't need violence".

The marchers made a stop at Benadir University, where the students killed in the attack had graduated from.

Analysts say the march is the first such public protest against al-Shabab in Mogadishu, where the group controls a large amount of territory and tolerates no dissent.

"We cannot endure such indiscriminate killing, everybody must say no to violence from now on," one of the protesters, Muhubo Adan Kheyre, told the AFP news agency.

Another protester, Yusuf Sahal, said the suicide attack had "sent a clear message to the whole country".

"It showed that these violent people will spare nobody, so we have to start confronting them," he said.

AFP reported that many of the demonstrators were relatives and friends of those who were killed.

Al-Shabab is locked in a battle for control of the country with other militant groups and the forces from the transitional government.

While militants control most of the country, the UN-backed government holds sway in only parts of Mogadishu.