Five dead in Al-Shabaab claimed car-bomb attack in Somalia

Five dead in Al-Shabaab claimed car-bomb attack in Somalia
A car bomb killed at least five in the Somali capital Mogadishu on Thursday. Police suspect the explosion, claimed by jihadist Al-Shabab militants, was an attempt to assassinate a judge.
2 min read
28 February, 2019
The death toll is likely to rise according to local sources [AFP]

A powerful explosion killed at least five people in the Somali capital on Thursday. The extremist group Al-Shabaab said a Mogadishu hotel was the intended target, but a police officer said militants detonated the bomb in an attempt to assassinate a judge.

Militants set off a car bomb near the home of appeals court chief Judge Abshir Omar in Mogadishu. Security forces stationed outside the Omar's house repelled gunmen who tried to force their way inside, police officer Mohamed Hussein told AP.

At least 25 others were injured in the attack.

The tally of dead and injured is likely to rise, Abdukadir Abdirahman, director of the Aamin Ambulance service, told AFP.

The explosion ripped off part of the roof of the judge's house, two witnesses said. Shopkeeper Ahmed Mohamed and area resident Fatima Nur reported hearing gunfire after the explosion and said smoke billowed from the site of the attack.

Al-Shabaab claimed the attack but said its intended target had been the Maka al-Mukarramah hotel, not the judge's house.

"There was a suicide blast followed by gunfire, in which the mujahedeen fighters targeted the commanders and officials of the Somali government who stayed at the hotel," said a statement published on an al-Shabaab-affiliated website.

The hotel suffered significant damage in the blast and several people inside were injured, another eyewitness said. Dozens of cars along the busy Maka al-Mukarramah thoroughfare were also set alight by the car bomb.

A second explosion hit the area a few minutes later, AFP reported, but its source is yet unclear.

Osman Elmi Boqore, Somalia's oldest lawmaker, was shot dead by al-Shabaab militants on Saturday.

The al-Qaida linked group, which opposes Somalia's federal government and wants to impose sharia law, is considered by many the deadliest extremist group in Africa.

It has carried out attacks in East Africa beyond its base in Somalia, including in neighbouring Kenya, despite having been ousted from its bases in the capital in 2011.

The US has ramped up airstrikes against the group in Somalia last year. A strike on Wednesday killed around 20 al-Shabaab militants, but a US general said earlier this month that airstrikes alone would not be enough to defeat the group.