At least nine people were killed and nine wounded Saturday in a suicide car bombing targeting a government convoy near two major hospitals in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu.
“A deafening, huge blast sent plumes of smoke into the sky and destroyed business buildings including restaurants, and I could see the dead bodies of at least eight people,” eyewitness Hussein Jim’ale, driver of a three-wheeled motorized taxi, told reporters at the scene.
The blast occurred near a busy intersection between Banadir and Madina hospitals.
Security officials said a man driving an explosives-laden luxury car targeted a government convoy carrying a senior police official, Col. Farhan Qarole, who survived the attack.
A Somali police spokesperson said Col. Qarole was the primary target of the attack.
Health officials told VOA Somali wounded people were rushed to the two nearby hospitals and that the death toll could rise.
It was the second terrorist attack in the city this month. One week ago, an al-Shabab suicide attack on a crowded tea shop near the Somali Intelligence Agency killed 10 people and wounded dozens. At least 15 people were killed and more than 20 wounded last month when a suicide bomber detonated his explosives in front of a government training center in Mogadishu.
Al Shabab militants who want to overthrow the government and impose their strict interpretation of Islamic sharia law have claimed responsibility for all of the attacks.
Analysts say the terrorist organization has stepped up its attacks ahead of the country’s upcoming elections, which are scheduled to be held within the next four months.
Abdulkadir Abdulle contributed to this report. VOA