Car bombs in Somalia kill at least nine people

Car bombs in Somalia kill at least nine people


At least nine people, including children, died in two car bomb attacks on the Somalia Ministry of Education in the capital Mogadishu on Saturday, security officials and witnesses said.

Two cars loaded with explosives were detonated minutes apart near the busy Zobe intersection, followed by gunfire.

“I was one of the first security officers to reach the area. I saw the bodies of nine people, most of them civilians, including women and children,” security official Ahmed Ali said, adding that dozens were injured.

Another security official, Yusuf Abdullahi, exacted a similar tribute.

Police spokesman Sadik Dudishe did not give a death toll but said the incident was being investigated.

“The ruthless terrorists killed mothers. Some of them died with their children on their backs,” he told reporters at a news conference, adding the attackers targeted “students and other civilians.”

The security forces’ response prevented the attackers from reaching their intended location, Dudishe said.

The afternoon blasts shattered windows of nearby buildings, threw up shrapnel and clouds of smoke and dust.

Abdirahman Ise, a witness, said the road was busy when the first explosion went off.

“I saw huge smoke around the ministry area and there is massive destruction,” said another witness, Amino Salad.

The attack happened at a busy intersection where a truck loaded with explosives exploded on October 14, 2017, killing 512 people and injuring more than 290.

There was no immediate admission of responsibility for the attack, but the Islamist group al-Shabaab remains a potent force in the troubled Horn of Africa nation, despite multinational efforts to weaken its leadership.

The jihadists have been trying to overthrow the fragile, foreign-backed government in Mogadishu for about 15 years.

Its fighters were driven out of the capital by an African Union force in 2011, but the group still controls tracts of land and is capable of launching deadly strikes on civilian and military targets.

They use threats of violence to collect taxes in areas under their jurisdiction.

The group claimed responsibility for an attack on a hotel in the port city of Kismayo last week that killed nine and wounded 47 others.

In August, the group launched a 30-hour gun and bomb attack on the popular Hayat Hotel in Mogadishu, killing 21 and wounding 117.

– ‘Total war’ –

Somalia’s President-elect Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, elected in May, has vowed to wage an “uncompromising war” on the Islamists following the August siege.

In September, he urged citizens to stay away from areas controlled by jihadists and said the armed forces and tribal militias would step up offensives against them.

A joint US-Somalia drone strike on October 1 killed one of the militants’ senior commanders.

Just hours after his death was announced, a triple bomb blast killed at least 30 people in the southern town of Beledweyne.

In addition to the violence, Somalia – like its neighbors in the Horn of Africa – is being hit by its worst drought in more than 40 years. Four failed rainy seasons have wiped out livestock and crops.

The conflict-torn nation is considered one of the most vulnerable to climate change but is particularly ill-equipped to deal with the crisis as it battles the deadly Islamist insurgency.

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