Published — Tuesday 19 March 2013
Last update 19 March 2013 4:54 am
MOGADISHU: A suicide car bomber killed at least 10 people yesterday in the worst attack in the Somali capital this year when he tried to kill Mogadishu’s security chief near the presidential palace, police and rebels said.
Al-Qaeda-linked group Al-Shabab said it carried out the attack along Maka Al-Mukarram road that runs between the palace and the national theater, a route lined by tearooms that were engulfed in fire from the blast.
A public minibus driving along the road burst into flames, when the suicide bomber set off explosives packed into his car in an attempt to kill Khalif Ahmed Ilig, the Mogadishu security chief, police and the rebels said.
Ambulance sirens wailed through the city’s congested streets and a Reuters witness at the scene saw pools of blood on the ground. Residents joined in the rescue operations, pulling victims from the tea-houses and the minibus.
Police said seven civilians, three government security officers, and the bomber died in the blast that brought part of the city to a standstill. At least seven others were injured.
“The suicide car bomber targeted a senior national security officer whose car was passing near the theater,” senior police officer Abdiqadir Mohamud told Reuters, adding that the official had been injured.
“Most of the people who died were on board the minibus — civilians. This public vehicle coincidentally came between the government car and the car bomb when it was hit. Littered at the scene are human hands and flesh.”
The explosion could be heard several kilometers away in Mogadishu’s central business district. Al-Shabab spokesman Sheikh Ali Mohamud Rage said the group was behind the attack. “A car bomb by a mujahid targeted Khalif, the Mogadishu national security chief. He is seriously injured,” Rage, told Reuters. “Many of his body guards and other security officials died and many others were wounded. It was revenge.”
On Sunday, Al-Shabab fighters regained control of Hudur, the capital of Bakool province near the Ethiopian border, after Ethiopian troops who have been part of an African offensive against the militants withdrew from the dusty town.