Mogadishu attack kills ten

2013-03-18 22:23
A Somali policeman gathers evidence around a car that exploded close to Mogadishu's famous Lido beach. (Mohemed Abdiwahab, AFP)

A Somali policeman gathers evidence around a car that exploded close to Mogadishu's famous Lido beach. (Mohemed Abdiwahab, AFP)

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Mogadishu - At least ten people were killed on Monday by a car bomb in central Mogadishu in one of the bloodiest attacks in the war-ravaged capital in recent months, Somali officials said.

Security sources added that a top intelligence official was the target of the attack, and that he was wounded in the blast.

"The suicide attack took place close to the National Theatre in the Hamarweyne district of the capital when a car bomber drove into a passenger bus. At least 10 people were killed and 15 wounded," a statement from the office of the Somali Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon said.

"Many have been killed, some of them were in a minibus that was hit by the blast," said Hassan Salad, who witnessed Monday's attack. "This is a disaster, there is smoke and dead bodies thrown all around."

Al-Qaeda linked Shabaab insurgents later claimed the attack and named the targeted intelligence official.

"The Mujahideen were responsible for the attack against the non-believer Khalif Ereg," Shebab spokesperson Sheikh Ali Mohamud Rage told AFP. "One holy person took the sacrificial act for the sake of Allah."

"Attacks against elements like him will continue until they are eliminated from the holy land of Somalia," he warned.

The Shabaab have launched a series of guerrilla-style attacks in Mogadishu. Their aim is to topple President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, who took office last year after being chosen by the country's new parliament.

Shirdon however said that the recent attacks were "misguided attempts to derail us which will have no affect."

Mogadishu secure

"We have made far too much progress to regress to the bad old days. Peace, stability and business are the order of the day," he said, adding that Mogadishu is more secure than it has ever been over the past 20 years.

While the Shabaab in recent months have been on the back foot in Somalia, having lost a string of key towns to a 17 000-strong African Union force fighting alongside Somali soldiers, they remain a potent threat.

Large rural areas remain under their control and they have carried out a series of guerrilla attacks in areas supposed to be under government control.

On Sunday the Shabaab retook the southern town of Hudur - the capital of Bakool region - after Ethiopian troops pulled out of the town.

The recapture of Hudur marks a sharp turnaround for the Shabaab as the first territorial victory for several months.

Mogadishu has been rocked by several small attacks - including both car bombs and suicide attackers - in recent months.

Monday's attack is the worst in the city since September, when two suicide bombers killed 18 people in a restaurant.

Somalia has been ravaged by conflict since 1991 but a new UN-backed government took power in September, ending eight years of transitional rule by a corruption-riddled administration.

Many have said the new government offers the most serious hope for stability since the fall of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991.

Read more on:    hassan sheikh mohamud  |  somalia  |  east africa  |  religion
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