Date: Friday, 29 March 2019
A car bomb exploded on Thursday near a hotel and restaurant in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, killing at least 11 people in a busy area targeted in the past by Islamist militants, rescue services said.
The explosion on a busy road in Mogadishu sent a huge cloud of smoke into the sky and destroyed two restaurants and cars parked in the area. A witness at the scene counted six dead bodies, according to Reuters.
“So far, we carried 11 dead people and 16 others wounded,” Abdikadir Abdirahman, director of Amin Ambulance service, told Reuters.
A police spokesman, Maj. Mohamed Hussein, told The Associated Press that the explosives-laden vehicle has detonated outside the restaurant.
“The blast destroyed a restaurant and killed many who were inside and outside the restaurant,” he told Reuters. “The death toll may rise.”
He said dozens of others had been injured in the blast, and that most of the casualties had been among diners at the crowded restaurant.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the bombing. But the Islamist group the Shabab, whose militants are linked to Al Qaeda, have targeted the same location, the Wehliye Hotel, which is along Maka al Mukaram road.
On Saturday, Shabab gunmen stormed a government building in Mogadishu after a suicide car bombing, and the ensuing gunfight and blast killed at least 15 people, including the country’s deputy labor minister, the police said, Reuters reported.
On Tuesday, a bomb planted in a private luxury car exploded in Mogadishu’s Hodan District, killing the driver and injuring a nearby pedestrian, Col. Ahmed Abdi, a police official, told The A.P.
The Shabab are fighting to topple the Western-backed government protected by African Union forces. The group was ejected from Mogadishu in 2011 and has since been driven from most of its other strongholds.
The United States military has increased the number of deadly airstrikes against the militants since Donald J. Trump took office as president. A number of multinational troops, including African Union force, Somali forces and Kenyan soldiers, are also fighting the Shabab.