A suicide car bomber has killed more than eight people at a security checkpoint close to the presidential palace in the Somali capital, in an attack that has now been claimed by the al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabab group.
The attack targeting a convoy going into the presidential palace exploded at a checkpoint close to the airport in Mogadishu, a popular route used by Somalia’s president and prime minister.
Police spokesman Abdifatah Aden Hassan told reporters at the scene the number of casualties in Saturday’s attack could be higher as some of the dead and wounded were taken away by relatives after the attack targeting a convoy going into the palace.
“Al-Shabab is behind the blast. They killed eight people including a soldier and a mother and two children. Al-Shabab massacres civilians,” he said.
In a brief statement, the group confirmed it was behind the bombing.
“The mujahideen carried [out] a martyrdom operation targeting the main security checkpoint of the presidential palace,” it said.
Al-Shabab, which wants to overthrow the government and impose its interpretation of Islamic law, frequently carries out such bombings.
“We have confirmed that eight people, most of them civilians, died and seven others wounded in the car bomb blast,” district police chief Mucawiye Ahmed Mudey said.
Somalia’s capital Mogadishu has been controlled by the Al-Shabab until 2011 it was pushed out by African Union troops leading to several violent attacks targeted at government officials and civilians.
No less than 597 people have died in separate attacks in Mogadishu by the group since its deadliest attack in 2017 that claimed the life of 500 people in a suicide truck bombing in Somalia’s capital city.
A witness at the recent bombing said the car bomb was detonated when police stopped the driver for a security check.
Government spokesman Mohamed Ibrahim Moalimuu said among those killed was Hibaq Abukar, a women and human rights affairs adviser in Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble’s office.