Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 2 August 2014

Five killed in Somalia bomb attack

Somali soldiers gather at the scene of a suicide car bomb blast in the capital Mogadishu (AP)

Five people have been killed in Somalia when a suicide bomber attempted to ram a car laden with explosives into a military convoy escorting a four-member Qatari delegation.

General Garad Nor Abdulle, a senior police official, said the members of the Qatari delegation were unharmed and safely reached their hotel.

Mohamed Abdi, an officer at the scene of the blast, said four civilians and a soldier died in the attack.

Soldiers fired in the air to disperse crowds that had gathered at the blast site at the busy KM4 junction.

The Somali government reopened key roads in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, four days ago which had been closed for security reasons. The road was closed after the government received intelligence that militants were planning attacks, officials said.

KM4 is among the busiest roads in Mogadishu, largely used by government officials and African Union forces. It connects the presidential compound and other government offices to the airport.

The car bombing falls into a pattern of attacks blamed on the Islamic extremist group al-Shabab, which has been pushed out of much of the areas it occupied in south and central Somalia by African Union troops.

Al-Shabab once controlled almost all of Mogadishu. African Union and Somali forces pushed the radical rebels out of the city in 2011, but the fighters have continued to carry out bomb attacks.

Al-Shabab claimed responsibility for an attack on Somali's Supreme Court last month that killed 35, including nine attackers. Somalia's prime minister said that several experienced foreign fighters took part in the attack on the Supreme Court, the most serious Islamic extremist attack on Mogadishu in years, while other officials indicated the explosive devices were more advanced than normal, a possible indication of greater involvement by al Qaida. The attack included six suicide bombings and two car bombs.

Al-Shabab boasts several hundred foreign fighters, including some from the Middle East with experience in the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. Al-Shabab also recruits fighters from Somali communities in the United States and Europe. In March, an explosives-filled car targeting a truck of government officials hit a civilian car and exploded, setting a minibus on fire and killing at least seven.

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