MOGADISHU, Somalia — A suicide car bombing on Saturday near the presidential palace in Mogadishu, the Somalian capital, has killed at least 13 people and wounded at least 17 others, the police said.
A second blast went off nearby shortly afterward, as a plume of smoke rose over the capital and ambulances were arriving on the scene.
The Shabaab, an Islamist group linked to Al Qaeda, claimed responsibility for both blasts in a broadcast on its Radio Andalus. The group said the second explosion had also been a car bomb.
A police official, Capt. Mohamed Hussein, said the bomber had targeted a military checkpoint near the rear entrance of the heavily fortified palace. Another police spokesman, Col. Ahmed Mohamud, said the death toll included civilians and soldiers.
Among those killed were a prominent journalist, Awil Dahir Salad; two security personnel; and a driver working for the local station Universal TV, whose car was passing the checkpoint at which the first blast went off, according to another reporter, Abdiasis Ibrahim, who works for the London-based Universal TV.
Among the wounded were the deputy mayor of Mogadishu, Mohamed Tuulah, and a former regional official, Warsame Jodah, according to local news reports.
Saturday is a business day in Somalia, and lawmakers and other officials had been traveling nearby when the explosions ripped through the area.
“At first I saw a vehicle driving to and fro, then we tried to stop people walking here and there, and then in the blink of an eye the vehicle exploded, causing havoc,” a traffic police officer, Mohamed Harun, told The Associated Press.
The Shabab have carried out a relentless campaign of attacks in Mogadishu, sometimes targeting civilians. The group’s members want to dislodge the central government and impose a strict interpretation of Shariah law.
The Shabab have lost much of their territory after being forced out of Mogadishu since 2011 as a result of attacks by African Union forces and increased American air power. But they remain a potent killing force.
In October 2017, a double truck bombing killed more than 380 people and injured hundreds of others, the worst attack in decades.
The United States subsequently stepped up airstrikes against the militants.
Source: New York Times