Six killed after suicide bomber targets offices in Somali capital
● Students at a nearby Islamic school among the dead and wounded
least six people were killed, including two children, after a suicide bomber detonated an explosives-laden vehicle outside a district headquarters in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu.
The bomber tried to speed through a checkpoint but was stopped by security forces, prompting him to detonate the vehicle near the gate of Howlwadag district headquarters.
Three soldiers who stopped the lorry were killed instantly along with three civilians.
The blast also severely injured 14 people who were taken into intensive care, including six children. Among the wounded was deputy district commissioner Ibrah Hassan Matan.
Many victims were students at a nearby Islamic school. Officials warned there could be more casualties as the blast brought down nearby buildings including a mosque.
“I saw bodies strewn on the ground after the explosion before the ambulances and the paramedics reached the scene and the whole scene was very ugly,” witness Halima Mohamed said.
The attacker “literally failed to achieve their goal of inflictat
ing maximum casualties,” police captain Hussein said, accusing the al-qaeda-linked extremist group al-shabaab of carrying out the attack.
Militant group al-shabaab later claimed responsibility for the explosion, which shattered a period of calm in seaside Mogadishu. The Somaliabased al-shabaab has fuelled an insurgency for a decade and often targets the capital with bombings, including a lorry
bombing in October that left at least 512 people dead.
A man accused of leading an al-shabaab unit that carried out the attack – the deadliest bombing in Somalia – was sentenced to death in February.
Somali troops are meant to take over the Horn of Africa nation’s security in the coming years from an African Union force but concerns about their readiness remain high. The UN Security Council recently voted to delay the reduction of troops in the AU force from October to February and the target date to hand over security to Somali forces to December 2021.
Somalia has faced instability and violence since 1991, when the military government was overthrown.
The ousting of Mohamed Siad Barre led to a civil war between rival warlords, and two northern regions – Somaliland and Puntland – effectively broke away from Somalia. Much of the country has effectively been a war zone for the last decade.
A Un-backed unity government was formed in 2012. Alshabaab has since been driven out of many urban areas but still controls territory in rural regions. The group carries out gun attacks and bombings on military and civilian targets.
The militant group has imposed a strict version of sharia law in areas under its control. The enforcement has led to the stoning to death of women accused of adultery.
“I saw bodies strewn on the ground before the ambulances and the paramedics reached the scene... the whole scene was very ugly”