Car bomb in Somalia's capital Mogadishu kills 8

NAIROBI, Kenya – A large explosion killed at least eight people and injured nine others in Mogadishu on Wednesday, according to the chie...

NAIROBI, Kenya – A large explosion killed at least eight people and injured nine others in Mogadishu on Wednesday, according to the chief of an ambulance service, the latest attack to hit the Somali capital as the country grapples with internal political struggles and a growing humanitarian crisis.

The car explosion occurred just before noon on a road leading to Mogadishu International Airport, according to Abdulkadir Adan, the founder of the Aamin Ambulance service, Mogadishu’s only free ambulance service. The road also serves a major police academy and a complex housing United Nations and foreign government staff and officials.

The bombardment, part of a series of attacks Blamed on the extremist Qaeda-linked Al Shabab group that has gripped Somalia in recent months, comes as the country’s leaders struggle to resolve a political crisis that has turned the government away from the deteriorating security situation.

Somali Memo, an Al Shabab affiliate news site, said activists claimed responsibility for the attack Wednesday. He said the group had targeted “a convoy of vehicles carrying white security guards”.

Mohamed Ibrahim Moalimuu, government spokesman, condemned what he called a suicide attack, calling it “cowardly”.

“Such acts of terrorism will not derail the ongoing peace and development in the country”, he wrote on Twitter. “We must unite in the fight against terrorism.

Details of how the attack was carried out were not immediately available. The Somali police spokesperson did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Photos and videos posted on social media showed a plume of smoke rising from a mutilated vehicle at the site of the attack as well as damaged buildings. Witnesses said the explosion could be heard in many parts of the city.

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia condemned the attack, and declared none of its “staff or subcontractors” were part of the targeted convoy. The US embassy in Mogadishu also denounced the attack. “Our hearts go out to the victims and families of those tragically killed and injured,” the embassy said. said on twitter.

The explosion hit the country as it goes through a tense electoral period that has seen internal struggles between its political leaders multiply.

In December, President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed suspended Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble on corruption charges. Mr Roble refused to step down, claiming that Mr Mohamed – whose official term expired in February, but who remained in power – is trying “to overthrow the government, the Constitution and the laws of the land”.

The political struggle threatened to tip the country into violent conflict, like the clashes that erupted in April, and overturn the minimum peace and stability that Somalia has achieved in recent years.

After weeks of quarrels, Mr. Mohamed on Monday supported a plan by the Prime Minister and other regional leaders to conclude legislative elections by February 25 – more than a year after their initial planning. State Department spokesman Ned Price on Tuesday called on Somali officials to complete the long-delayed elections and deal with the divisions that have hampered the process.

“The United States is ready to rely on relevant tools, potentially including visa restrictions, to respond to further delays or actions that compromise the integrity of the process,” he added. Mr. Price said.

Mr Roble’s supporters are expected to demonstrate in the capital to show their support for the prime minister on Thursday, a move that could exacerbate tensions.

As disagreements over the elections persist, Al Shabab has stepped up its attacks, especially in the capital. Over the past two months, the group has achieved car bomb explosions, assassinated government officials and attacked electoral centers – the efforts of analysts say they are aimed at undermining the electoral process.

The militant group also took advantage of infighting between Somali political forces to attack and capture towns where they had not been active for more than a decade.

The country’s instability has also been compounded by political divisions in the semi-autonomous northeastern state of Puntland, where clashes between government forces – including an elite unit formed in the United States – have diverted the attention of the fight against Al Shabab.

The security situation in Somalia is deteriorating and parts of the country are facing their driest season in about four decades. 3.8 million people are estimated to be acutely food insecure, according to the United Nations, with nearly three million internally displaced persons.

“As long as the electoral cycle and the current tensions drag on, the attention of the political elite will be more inward, while other priorities will lag behind,” said Omar S. Mahmood, analyst principal of Somalia at the International Crisis Group. “This unfortunately creates more space for Al Shabab to operate. “

Hussein Mohamed contributed reporting from Mogadishu, Somalia.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Car bomb in Somalia's capital Mogadishu kills 8
Car bomb in Somalia's capital Mogadishu kills 8
Newsrust - US Top News
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