Mogadishu car bomb kills at least 15

106

A car bomb exploded near a hotel and restaurants in Mogadishu killing at least 15 people in a busy area of the Somali capital previously targeted by Islamist militants, rescue services said.

The afternoon explosion sent smoke billowing into the sky and destroyed two restaurants and parked cars.

A Reuters witness counted six bodies.

“So far 15 people died including five women. Seventeen others were injured in the blast,” Abdikadir Abdirahman, the director of Amin Ambulance service, told Reuters.

Another witness at the scene said she saw 18 bodies.

“As a mother, it is shocking for me and I request those responsible for the explosions to stop. We cry every day over dead bodies and it is hard for us to talk about,” the resident, who did not wish to be named, told Reuters.

Police earlier gave a death toll of eight.

“The blast destroyed a restaurant and killed people ins and outside the restaurant. The death toll may rise,” police Major Mohamed Hussein told Reuters.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility. Al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab militants have previously targeted the same location, the Wehliye Hotel, on the busy Maka al Mukaram road.

On Saturday, 15 people died in two explosions and a gunfight between al Shabaab militants and security personnel in Mogadishu.

Al Shabaab, which is trying to topple Somalia’s western-backed central government, was ejected from Mogadishu in 2011 and has since been driven from most of its other strongholds.

It remains a threat, with fighters frequently carrying out bombings in Somalia and neighbouring Kenya, whose troops form part of the African Union-mandated peacekeeping force helping to defend central government.