- A plume of thick black smoke was seen over the city and witnesses say that a number of vehicles caught fire.
- The al-Qaeda linked group, al-Shabaab, claimed responsibility for the attack.
- Mogadishu is regularly hit by attacks from the al-Shabaab, a militant group that has fought for more than a decade to topple the Somalia government.
Four people were killed and ten others injured when a car bomb exploded close to a checkpoint near Somalia’s parliament in the capital Mogadishu, police have said. “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 a police officer, Adan Abdullahi. “Initial reports we have received indicate four people were killed and more than ten others wounded in the blast,” he added.
A plume of thick black smoke was seen over the city and witnesses say that a number of vehicles caught fire. “I saw dead bodies of several people some of them killed by shrapnel inside their vehicles,” said Abdirahman Mohamed, a witness who was at a nearby grocery store when the blast occurred. “There was chaos . . . and ambulances reached the scene soon after the blast.” Another witness, Shamso Ali, said “smoke and chaos along the road, the blast was very heavy. . . Thanks to God I was away but I saw the smoke and several vehicles caught fire,” he added.
The al-Qaeda linked group, al-Shabaab, claimed responsibility for the attack. The militant group was forced out of Mogadishu several years ago, but it continues to target high profile areas, like popular hotels and checkpoints. Mogadishu is regularly hit by attacks from al-Shabaab, a militant group that has fought for more than a decade to topple the Somali government.
This attack comes a few days after al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for a massive car bombing in Mogadishu on December 28 that killed 80 people and wounded dozens. The attack hit a busy checkpoint in the southwest of the city, leaving vehicles charred and twisted at a crossroad. This was the deadliest assault in two years in the country, located in the Horn of Africa. Earlier in December, five people were killed when militants attacked a hotel that is popular with politicians, diplomats and senior government officials.
Since 2015, there have been 13 attacks in Somalia, which have claimed around 20 or more individuals. Eleven of the attacks have been in Mogadishu. All of them involved car bombs. The deadliest attack was in October 2017, in Mogadishu, which left 512 people dead and around 295 injured.
The armed group has over the years expanded its network in the region, especially in Kenya, which has had many devastating attacks. They are said to be in retaliation for the country sending its troops into Somalia in 2011. On Sunday, three US citizens died, and several aircraft and military vehicles were destroyed, when the militant group attacked a military base in Kenya’s coastal Lame region. This attack came just a few days after al-Shabaab ambushed a bus in the Kenyan coastal region, killing three people.
Al-Shabaab has in the past carried out sieges against civilians in Kenya, such as the upmarket Westgate Mall in 2013, and Garissa University in 2015.