Somalia blast kills 16 near Mogadishu presidential palace

Somalia blast kills at least 16 near Mogadishu presidential palace
2 min read
22 December, 2018
The al-Shabab extremist group has claimed responsibility for a blast at a military checkpoint near Somalia's presidential palace in Mogadishu.

An explosives-packed vehicle detonated at a military checkpoint near Somalia's presidential palace, killing at least 16 people and wounding more than 20 others, police said.

The al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabab extremist group, which often targets Mogadishu, claimed responsibility for the attack.

Those killed include three staffers from the London-based Universal TV station, including prominent journalist Awil Dahir Salad, said police Capt. Mohamed Hussein.

The bomber targeted the checkpoint near the rear entrance of the heavily fortified palace, Hussein said. A lawmaker and a deputy mayor of Mogadishu were among the more than 20 people wounded, he said.

Soldiers also were among the dead, Col. Ahmed Mohamud said.

The blast and a second, smaller one nearby appeared to target those heading to work on what is a business day in the Horn of Africa nation.

A plume of smoke rose over the capital as ambulances rushed to the scene.

Al-Shabab, the most active extremist group in sub-Saharan Africa, was pushed out of Mogadishu years ago but continues to control large parts of rural southern and central Somalia.

The US military, which partners with Somali forces and an African Union peacekeeping mission, has greatly increased airstrikes against al-Shabab under the Trump administration. At least 47 US strikes have been carried out this year.

Agencies contributed to this report.