At least 14 people were killed on Sunday when a car packed with explosives blew up near a busy intersection in Mogadishu, officials and witnesses said.
“We have counted about 14 people killed and more than 30 others wounded… the area was a busy intersection alongside the road and there were many civilians when the blast occurred,” said local security official Mohamed Jilibey.
The explosion is the first big attack in the Somali capital since the election of new President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed – nicknamed Farmajo – although several mortar blasts claimed by al-Shabaab Islamists marked the official handover of power last week.
“The death toll is very high, more than 10 people were confirmed dead and others are wounded,” said Dahir Ahmed, another official.
Witnesses said the bombing targeted an intersection in southern Mogadishu’s Madina district where soldiers, civilians and traders were present.
“There were many small scale traders alongside the road and teashops and restaurants. There were also members of the security forces and shoppers and the blast was so huge that it killed nearly 20 people, most of them civilians,” said witness Sumayo Moalim.
The attack underlines the challenge facing the new president, who has inherited an administration with limited control over Somali territory due to the presence of Shabaab, and is heavily propped up by the international community.
AU troops drove Shabaab militants out of Mogadishu in August 2011 but the militants continue to control rural areas and launch repeated attacks in the capital.