Al-Shabaab car bomb kills at least 16 in Mogadishu

Police in Somalia say suicide bomber blew themselves up near presidential palace

A vehicle packed with explosives has been detonated at a military checkpoint near Somalia’s presidential palace, killing at least 16 people and wounding more than 20 others, police said.

The al-Qaida-linked al-Shabaab, which often targets Mogadishu, has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Those killed include three members of staff from the London-based Universal TV station, including the prominent journalist Awil Dahir Salad, police spokesman Mohamed Hussein said.

The bomber targeted the checkpoint near the rear entrance of the heavily fortified palace, Hussein said. An MP and a deputy mayor of Mogadishu were among those wounded, he said.

Soldiers also were among the dead, Col Ahmed Mohamud said.

The blast and a second, smaller one nearby appeared to target those heading to work on what was a business day in tSomalia. A plume of smoke rose over the capital as ambulances rushed to the scene.

“At first I saw a vehicle driving to and fro, then we tried to stop people walking here and there, and then in the blink of an eye the vehicle exploded, causing havoc,” traffic police officer Mohamed Harun said.

Al-Shabaab was pushed out of Mogadishu years ago, but continues to control large parts of rural southern and central Somalia.

The US military, which works with Somali forces and a 20,000-strong African Union peacekeeping mission, has greatly increased airstrikes against al-Shabaab under Donald Trump. At least 47 US strikes have been carried out this year.

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