At least 16 killed near So­mali palace

Lexington Herald-Leader (Sunday) - - News - BY ABDI GULED

An ex­plo­sives-packed ve­hi­cle det­o­nated at a mil­i­tary check­point near So­ma­lia’s pres­i­den­tial palace, killing at least 16 peo­ple and wound­ing more than 20 oth­ers, po­lice said. The al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab ex­trem­ist group, which of­ten tar­gets Mogadishu, claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for the at­tack.

Those killed in­clude three staffers from the Lon­don-based Uni­ver­sal TV sta­tion, in­clud­ing prom­i­nent jour­nal­ist Awil Dahir Salad, said po­lice Capt. Mo­hamed Hus­sein, who gave the toll of dead and wounded.

The bomber tar­geted the check­point near the rear en­trance of the heav­ily for­ti­fied palace, Hus­sein said. A law­maker and a deputy mayor of Mogadishu were among those wounded, he said.

Sol­diers also were among the dead, Col. Ahmed Mo­hamud said.

The blast and a sec­ond, smaller one nearby ap­peared to tar­get those head­ing to work on what was a busi­ness day in the Horn of Africa na­tion.

A plume of smoke rose over the cap­i­tal as am­bu­lances rushed to the scene.

“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,” traf­fic po­lice of­fi­cer Mo­hamed Harun said.

Al-Shabab, the most ac­tive Is­lamic ex­trem­ist group in sub-Sa­ha­ran Africa, was pushed out of Mogadishu years ago but con­tin­ues to con­trol large parts of ru­ral south­ern and cen­tral So­ma­lia.

The U.S. mil­i­tary, which part­ners with So­mali forces and a 20,000strong African Union peace­keep­ing mis­sion, has greatly in­creased airstrikes against al-Shabab un­der the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion. At least 47 U.S. strikes have been car­ried out this year.

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