MOGADISHU (Reuters) - A suicide car bomb exploded near two government ministries in Mogadishu on Tuesday, killing at least six people, said an ambulance worker, in the second such attack in the Somali capital this month.
The blast took place in the busy Kilometer 5 area near two hospitals and close to the foreign and planning ministries. The suicide bomber struck about three kilometers (2 miles) from where a meeting between high-level Kenyan and Somali government officials had been taking place.
“At least seven people died including the bomber. Twenty others were injured,” Ali Muse, coordinator of the ambulance service in Mogadishu, told Reuters.
“Most of the casualties were businessmen and customers who were at the spot where the car bomb unexpectedly went off,” Muse said, adding he thought the bomber could have been targeting a school building financed by Turkey.
The latest suicide bomb will pile yet more pressure on a beleaguered government that relies on African troops to prop it up and controls virtually none of the country outside the capital.
Earlier, shopkeeper Farah Hussein said he saw three bodies, including one which appeared to be that of the suicide bomber.
“I see three dead people including the suicide car bomber who is totally burned and ripped apart,” Hussein told Reuters.
Ambulances evacuated the wounded and government forces fired in the air to disperse a crowd which had gathered in the street, used by Burundian troops who form part of the Mogadishu-based African Union peacekeeping force to get to and from their base.
On October 4, a suicide truck bomb struck a compound housing several other government ministries about 1 km from the scene of Tuesday’s attack, killing more than 70 people as students gathered to register for scholarships offered by Turkey.
Al Shabaab rebels, against whom Somali and Kenyan forces recently launched an attack in the south of the country, claimed responsibility for that attack.
At the time the al Qaeda-linked rebels warned Somalis to stay away from government buildings and military bases, saying “more serious blasts are coming.”
Al Shabaab rebels pulled most of their fighters out of Mogadishu in August allowing government troops and African Union soldiers to seize control of almost all the capital. But the militants vowed to carry out attacks on government offices.
Analysts had warned the insurgents would shift their tactics after withdrawing from the capital to more asymmetrical, al Qaeda-style attacks.
Additional reporting by Feisal Omar; Writing by Yara Bayoumy; Editing by Richard Lough and Sophie Hares