At least four people were killed, including a senior government official, when a car bomb exploded close to a checkpoint near Somalia’s parliament in the capital Mogadishu on Wednesday, police said.
A plume of thick black smoke was seen over the city and witnesses said a number of vehicles were on fire.
Islamist group Al-Shabaab claimed the attack, after a rise in activity in recent days by the al-Qaeda linked group which has seen it inflict mass casualties in Somalia and attack a US military base in Kenya.
‘Explosives were packed in a vehicle which the security forces think was trying to pass through the checkpoint, but because he could not do that, the suicide bomber detonated it,’ said police officer Adan Abdullahi. ‘Initial reports we have received indicate four people were killed and more than 10 others were wounded in the blast.’
Bile Ismail, the manager of finances at the ministry for women and human rights, was among those killed, relatives and colleagues said.
‘We have indeed lost a brother and good friend in the blast this morning,’ Abdiqani Omar, the ministry’s former director general, said.
Mogadishu is regularly hit by attacks by the Shabaab, which has fought for more than a decade to topple the Somali government.
The powerful blast comes after the Shabaab claimed a car bombing in Mogadishu on December 28 that killed 81 people. That attack, which hit a busy checkpoint in the southwest of the city, was Somalia’s deadliest assault in two years. Scores were wounded.
The Shabaab has also managed to expand its network in the region, especially in Kenya which has suffered several devastating attacks in retaliation for sending troops into Somalia in 2011.
On Sunday, three US citizens died and several aircraft and military vehicles were destroyed when the Shabaab stormed a military base in Kenya’s coastal Lamu region.
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