Deaths as suicide bomber detonates in Mogadishu, mayor badly wounded

Medical workers help civilian on stretcher who was wounded in suicide bomb, at Madina hospital, Mogadishu, Wednesday, July 24, 2019. A suicide bomber walked into the office of Mogadishu's mayor and detonated explosives strapped to his waist, killing several people and badly wounding the mayor. (AP)
Updated 24 July 2019

Deaths as suicide bomber detonates in Mogadishu, mayor badly wounded

  • The attack occurred shortly after the new United Nations envoy to Somalia visited mayor
  • Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabab extremist group claimed responsibility

MOGADISHU: A suicide bomber walked into the office of Mogadishu’s mayor and detonated explosives strapped to his waist, killing six people and badly wounding the mayor, Somali police said Wednesday.

The attack occurred shortly after the new United Nations envoy to Somalia, James Swan, had paid the mayor a “courtesy call” and left the compound, an official at the mayor’s office. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

The UN mission in Somalia in a tweet before the bombing posted photos of the smiling mayor and new envoy, saying Swan had received an overview of the “challenges” in the region.

The Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabab extremist group claimed responsibility. It often targets government buildings such as the presidential palace and other high-profile parts of Mogadishu with bombings.

"We conducted a successful operation in Mogadishu this afternoon. The target was the newly appointed U.N. envoy to Somalia and other senior enemy members. Some of them were eliminated, others wounded," Al-Shabab spokesman Abdiasis Abu Musab said in a statement.

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The mayor, Abdirahman Omar Osman, and his deputy were rushed to a hospital with critical wounds and two district commissioners were among the dead, said police Capt. Mohamed Hussein.

It was not clear how the bomber managed to enter the mayor’s office during a security meeting. Some security officials said the attacker might have coordinated with corrupt officials, offering them bribes for access.

The security officials said Wednesday’s attack appeared to be a shift in tactics, as the extremists in the past had rarely managed to infiltrate heavily fortified government buildings without first detonating one or more vehicle bombs.

The Somalia-based Al-Shabab was chased out of Mogadishu years ago but still controls parts of the Horn of Africa nation’s south and central regions and is a frequent target of US airstrikes.

"A suicide bomber walked into the meeting hall and blew up himself," said Mohamed Abdullahi, a relative of one of the victims, told Reuters. The area was filled with ambulances after the blast, shopkeeper Mohamed Osman said.

The Horn of Africa country has been riven by conflict since 1991, when clan warlords overthrew a dictator, then turned on each other. 


Japan’s Abe says he will meet Iran’s Rouhani this month in NY

Updated 49 min 13 sec ago

Japan’s Abe says he will meet Iran’s Rouhani this month in NY

  • Abe added that he would travel to Belgium after the UNGA session
  • He is also meeting with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker

TOKYO: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Tuesday he would meet with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at the end of the month, as regional tensions rise in the Middle East after the weekend attacks on Saudi oil facilities, public broadcaster NHK said.
It was during a meeting with members of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party that Abe repeated his intention of speaking with Rouhani on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) in New York, according to NHK.
Abe added that he would travel to Belgium after the UNGA session and meet with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, NHK said.