x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

At least 15 killed in Al Shabab suicide attack in Somalia

Officials say 20 others are injured in a blast in Mogadishu, the capital.

MOGADISHU // At least 15 people were killed by an Al Shabab suicide bomber that was a member of in Somalia's capital, officials said yesterday.

"The horrible suicide blast, carried out by desperate and violent criminals, killed at least 15 innocent civilians, while 20 others are injured," said the Mogadishu mayor, Mohamed Ahmed Nur.

Mr Nur said two lawmakers were also slightly injured in the blast on Wednesday at a small cafe in the heart of the government quarter and close to the presidential palace.

"They are cowards, attacking soft targets - innocent people drinking tea," Mr Nur said. The attack was the latest in a string of blasts including roadside bombs and grenade explosions that have rocked Mogadishu.

Al Shabab fighters said their attack had targeted government officials at the nearby Mona hotel, the site of an August 2010 attack when Shabab fighters killed 32 people including six lawmakers.

"The mujaheddin fighters carried out a bomb attack against Mona hotel, where the apostate lawmakers and security officials stay," said Al Shabab spokesman, Sheikh Abdulaziz Abu Musab. "We will continue targeting them everywhere."

Mogadishu has seen an increase in such attacks since Al Shabab abandoned fixed positions there in August and switched to guerrilla tactics against the western-backed government and African Union troops.

The attack took place hours after Alexander Rondos, the European Union special representative for the Horn of Africa, visited the city, where he met government officials.

Jerry Rawlings, the former Ghanaian leader and African Union special envoy to Somalia, had also visited the palace on Wednesday.