A suicide bombing has struck Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, killing five people including the bomber, with the armed group al-Shabab quickly claiming responsibility.
Witnesses reported a loud explosion, followed by gunfire and plumes of smoke, in Waaberi district on Sunday.
The area is close to the heavily fortified international airport.
|Residents survey aftermath of the bombing in Mogadishu’s Waaberi district [Mustaf Abdi Nor Shafana/Al Jazeera]|
Witnesses told Al Jazeera the attack targeted Somalia’s National Intelligence and Security Agency and that security forces opened fire to disperse approaching onlookers.
Ahmed Adan, a Somali police official, told AFP news agency: “There was a car bomb explosion near the Afisiyone area.
“We are getting information that a suicide bomber rammed a car laden with explosives into a pickup truck.”
Mohamed Yusuf, Interior Ministry spokesperson, said security agencies had received information about a car laden with explosives and had been following it.
“It exploded and four civilians were killed besides the bomber.”
Speaking to Al Jazeera, Abu Musaab, military-operations spokesperson of al-Shabab, said: “We conducted an operation against the apostates – including white mercenaries – in Mogadishu.
“There were heavy casualties. We will give more details later.”
Last month al-Shabab gunmen attacked the main African Union base in Mogadishu leaving at least eight people dead. The AU base hosts UN offices and embassies.
Sunday’s blast comes days after a US air strike killed al-Shabab’s intelligence chief, Abdishakur Tahlil.
Somalia’s government is struggling to rebuild the country after decades of conflict sparked by the 1991 ouster of long-term leader Siad Barre.