A car bomb exploded in Mogadishu, Somalia Saturday morning near the Somalian presidential palace and parliament headquarters, police officials said.
The bomb exploded at 9:10 a.m. as the car it was carrying it approached a police checkpoint. The car had been being chased for quite some time and had run through one checkpoint before exploding at a second one.
“A suicide bomber driving a Toyota Noah [vehicle] drove past a security checkpoint in the Dabka area, forcing police to open fire. At least seven people were wounded, eight cars and nine rickshaws were destroyed in the morning bombing in Mogadishu,” Somali police said in a statement.
The driver was killed in the blast. The police statement reported that no civilians were killed, however, local media reports claim between three and five people also died in the explosion.
Witnesses told Al Jazeera News that because the police had been chasing and shooting at the vehicle in question, civilians, cars, and the small three-wheeled vehicles, called tuk-tuks, had scattered, greatly reducing casualties from the blast.
In an interview with the AFP News Agency, security official Abdirahman Mohamed said, “The police were chasing the hostile vehicle after spotting it a few kilometers away from where it exploded. Three civilians died according to the information we have received so far and eight others are wounded.”
No one has yet claimed responsibility for the bombing. Most officials believe it is another attack perpetrated by the terrorist group al-Shabaab. The Islamic jihadist group has been actively trying to turn Somalia into a fundamentalist Islamic state.
Last week, during an emergency meeting between government officials and President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo to try to come to an agreement on new elections, al-Shabaab detonated an IED roadside bomb killing 13 military members, including the head of the National Security Agency. Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for that attack through a statement broadcast on its official Andalus Radio.
Earlier in February, terrorists from al-Shabaab had attacked the Afrik hotel near Mogadishu’s international airport. The hotel is frequently used by government officials. After a car bomb explosion, gunmen attacked the building and besieged it for several hours before security officials secured the hotel killing all four terrorists. Five civilians died in that attack.
The terrorist group has also claimed responsibility for other recent attacks in Mogadishu, including a truck bombing in December which killed 85, as well as a triple car bombing near a hotel in Mogadishu in which at least 52 people were killed and 100 injured in November 2018.
Back in September, President Farmaajo had met leaders from four of Somalia’s five federal states in the central city of Dhuusamareeb. They had reached an agreement that would have paved the way for an indirect election. Yet, the election, which was supposed to be held on February 8, never took place, and now the political crisis in Somalia continues.