Frail peace in Mogadishu shattered by bombing

A pair of explosions claimed by al-Shabaab have left at least ten dead in the Somali capital.

Mogadishu car bomb remains [Hamza Mohamed/Al Jazeera]
The Qatari delegation travelled in a bulletproof car, but at least ten people were killed [Hamza Mohamed/Al Jazeera]

Mogadishu, Somalia – Body parts littered the busy K4 junction here in the Somali capital after a car bomb killed at least ten people and left more than a dozen injured.

At least three corpses, charred beyond recognition, lay around the remains of four vehicles destroyed in the attack.

The target of the bombing was believed to be an armoured vehicle carrying government officials and a Qatari delegation.

“A vehicle carrying officials and an Arab delegation was passing here when the explosion happened,” Abdi Dabarey, the area’s district commissiner told Al Jazeera at the scene of the explosion. “They have all survived the attack and are now safe.”

Al-Shabaab, the notorious armed group behind much of the recent violence and instability in Somalia, was swift to claim the bombing as its own.

“We carried out the attack. The target was the apostate interior minister and his foreign delegation,” an al-Shabaab spokesman told Al Jazeera.

Interior minister Abdikarim Hussein Guled was with the president in a different part of the city when his vehicle was targeted.

An hour later, a second explosion rocked the city’s Dayniile district. The roadside bomb targeted a convoy of passing government soldiers. Casualty numbers from the second attack remain unclear, but witnesses said no civilians were hurt in the attack.

Al-Shabaab also carried out the second bombing, its spokesperson told Al Jazeera.

Wreckage from the car bomb is cleared
[Hamza Mohamed/Al Jazeera]

“The target of the IED was Alpha Group [an elite army unit] convoy. We killed five of the apostate militia.”

The attacks come a day after the government lifted a three-day ban on vehicle traffic on the city’s main road, aimed at preventing al-Shabaab attacks in the city.

On Saturday night, al-Shabaab leader Ahmed “Abu Zubeyr” Godane released an audio message through local media, calling on al-Shabaab fighters to increase their attacks against government targets.

The group has lost control of major cities in southern and central Somalia to government troops backed by African Union peacekeepers.

Sensitive timing

On May 7, world leaders are set to gather in London to discuss ways to help the new Somali government gain greater control over the country and support tis citizens. The government has been in office since September 2012.

The city has been enjoying a period of relative calm since al-Shabaab were pushed out almost two years ago.

But recently the group has been carrying out targeted assassinations and car bombs aimed security personnel and government officials in the city.

In April, al-Shabaab left more than 30 dead after a daylight attack on the city’s regional court. Government officials and two prominent lawyers were among the dead.

Nine days ago, al-Shabaab gunmen armed with pistols assassinated the deputy state attorney, Ahmed Malim Sheikh Nur.

Many here feel the government needs to do more to deal with the threat of violence.

“There is a serious security situation in Mogadishu,” said Abdirashid Hashi, a former cabinet minister and deputy director of the Heritage Institute think tank.

“The recent storming of the court complex [and] the three-day long lockdown of the entire city demonstrate that Mogadishu and its residents face a clear and present danger and the government has to show that it has the strategy to address this threat.”

Following recent attacks, the government replaced the head of the country’s national intelligence agency and chief of the police force.

Follow Hamza Mohamed on Twitter: @Hamza_Africa

Source: Al Jazeera