Al Shabaab claims Somali bomb


Islamist militant group al Shabaab said it was responsible for a bomb blast near the presidential palace and government buildings in Mogadishu city authorities said killed three people.

The attack appeared to be part of an intensified campaign by the al Qaeda ally in Somalia and neighbouring Kenya, which have porous borders and often ad hoc methods for sharing intelligence.

Three people were killed in Wednesday’s blast, Saleh Hassan Omar, spokesman for the city mayor, said in a statement. The bombing hit Sayidka junction, a security checkpoint near the palace, the interior ministry and parliament.

Aamin ambulance service head Abdikadir Abdirahman told Reuters 11 people were wounded, including three women.

Al Shabaab issued a statement claiming responsibility and saying the attack showed government has not fully secured “Mogadishu’s major arteries”.

On Sunday, three Americans — one US military service member and two contractors — were killed by Al Shabaab during an attack on a military base in Kenya near the Somali border. The base is used by US and Kenyan forces.

On December 28, a truck bombing claimed by al Shabaab at a checkpoint in Mogadishu killed at least 90 people, in the deadliest attack in the country in more than two years.

The group regularly carries out attacks aimed at undermining Somalia’s government, which it is fighting to overthrow for more than a decade.

Last year, 21 people died during an al Shabaab assault on a hotel complex in Nairobi, Kenya, which in 2011 sent troops to Somalia after cross-border attacks and kidnappings.

Security analysts say recent attacks in Mogadishu hit unusually sensitive locations, showing the group’s continued ability to mount sophisticated attacks.

In September, it targeted a base where US Special Forces train Somali commandos, though no one was killed.

The group launched three deadly attacks in Kenya last week in different areas near the Somali border. The latest was on Tuesday, when four Kenyan school children were killed in a gunfight between militants and police.