At least two people have died and several others were hurt after a car bomb exploded near Somalia’s parliament headquarters in the capital, Mogadishu.
A huge cloud of smoke could be seen billowing over the area dotted with security checkpoints erected along a road leading to the presidential palace, whose main gate is just 200 yards from the blast site.
The car bomb was detonated at a checkpoint after soldiers intercepted and stopped a suspicious vehicle, senior police Capt Mohamed Hussein said. The checkpoint is close to the interior ministry.
A few hours earlier, another car bomb outside the capital killed one person plus the driver, police said. Officers said the explosion occurred after soldiers arrived at the scene to inspect the “suspicious” car which had become stuck on a sandy road in the Sinka Dheer area.
The car bombings come three days after at least 14 people were killed and 10 others wounded in a car bomb blast near the Weheliye hotel on the busy Makka Almukarramah road.
Mogadishu is often attacked by the Somalia-based extremist group al-Shabab, the deadliest Islamic extremist group in Africa. A truck bombing in October killed 512 people in the country’s deadliest-ever attack.
The Horn of Africa nation continues to struggle to counter the Islamic extremist group. Concerns have risen over plans to hand over the country’s security to Somalia’s own forces as a 21,000-strong African Union force begins a withdrawal that is expected to be complete in 2020.
The US military, which has stepped up efforts against al-Shabab in the past year with dozens of drone strikes, has said Somali forces are not yet ready.