Somalia’s government spokesperson was wounded in an explosion in the capital in a suspected suicide bomber attack, state-run media reported.
A photographer at the scene of the blast on Sunday reported seeing body parts lying on the ground outside the house of Mohamed Ibrahim Moalimuu, who was rushed to a hospital.
State-run Somali National News Agency said the explosion at a junction of a Mogadishu road was from a suicide bomber.
“A suicide bomber targeted the government spokesman who is now being treated in hospital for his injuries from the blast,” police spokesman Abdifatah Aden told Reuters news agency.
Nasra Bashir Ali, state media special correspondent in the prime minister’s office, where Moalimuu is based, said on Twitter he did not suffer life-threatening injuries in the attack, which targeted him as he was passing in his vehicle.
Reporting from Mogadishu, Al Jazeera’s Jamae Nour said it was not the first time Moalimuu, a former journalist, had been targeted in an assassination attempt.
“According to a statement from the national news agency, Moalimuu was attacked by a person wearing a suicide belt. The attacker detonated the belt near Moalimuu when he was leaving his residence,” said Nour.
Escalating power struggle
It was not immediately clear who was behind the attack.
Al-Shabab – an al-Qaeda-linked armed group fighting to overthrow the country’s UN-backed government – often claims responsibility for attacks around Somalia.
It has been widely expected violence would increase as tensions rise in Somalia over a national election that has been delayed for almost a year.
“Such attacks are purely politically motivated actions,” said Mohamed Abdulaziz Omar, a local civil society activist, adding it also occurred in past elections in the Horn of Africa nation.
Somalia’s allies and international observers have expressed alarm over an escalating power struggle between the country’s president and prime minister.
Moalimuu is a senior media adviser to Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble. Soldiers loyal to Roble gathered on the streets in December.
The show of force came after President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, better known as Farmaajo, announced the suspension of Roble’s powers for suspected corruption, a move the prime minister described as a coup attempt.
Factions of the security forces allied to Farmaajo and Roble in April seized areas of the capital, as the prime minister and opposition opposed a move to extend the president’s four-year term by another two years.
Clashes between the two groups forced between 60,000 and 100,000 people to flee their homes.
BREAKING: Loud explosion heard in #Mogadishu, #Somalia. Initial reports say that Mohamed Moalimuu, the spokesperson of the #Somalia Govt and senior Media Adviser to the Prime Minister, is reportedly targeted, wounded. pic.twitter.com/FBgtYfFmrg
— Morad News (@MoradNews) January 16, 2022