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Suicide attack kills six at Mogadishu government HQ - official

MOGADISHU (Reuters) - A suicide bombing at municipal government headquarters in the Somali capital Mogadishu on Wednesday killed six people including district commissioners and local government chiefs, the country’s information minister said.

Al Qaeda-linked Islamist militant group al Shabaab, which aims to topple Somalia’s U.N.-backed government, claimed responsibility for the bombing, the latest of many such attacks.

“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 Shabaab spokesman Abdiasis Abu Musab said in a statement sent to Reuters.

Six people were injured in the “terrorist act” including the mayor of Mogadishu, Information Minister Mohamed Abdi Hayir told reporters. The U.N. envoy, American James Swan, had paid a visit to the mayor earlier on Wednesday, according to the Twitter feed of the U.N. assistance mission in Somalia.

“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.

Writing by Katharine Houreld; Editing by Mark Heinrich