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4 killed in blasts near Somali parliament
March 26, 2018
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MOGADISHU: A car bomb exploded near Somalia’s parliament headquarters in the capital, Mogadishu, killing at least four people along with the driver, police said on Sunday, with several others injured.

A huge cloud of smoke could be seen billowing over the area dotted with security checkpoints erected along a road leading to the presidential palace, whose main gate is just 200 metres from the blast site. The checkpoint also is close to the interior ministry.

The car bomb was detonated at a checkpoint after soldiers intercepted and stopped a suspicious vehicle, senior police Captain Mohamed Hussein told The Associated Press. Those dead included two soldiers, he said, while many of the nearly 10 people wounded are rickshaw drivers.

A few hours earlier, another car bomb outside the capital killed one person plus the driver, police said.

Officer Mohamed Abdi told the media that the explosion occurred after soldiers arrived at the scene to inspect the “suspicious” car which had become stuck on a sandy road in the Sinka Dheer area.

Nur Mohamed, a Mogadishu police officer, told reporters that the bomb went off at the heavily guarded Sayidka checkpoint.

Abdikadir Abdirahman, director of Amin ambulances, the city’s sole rescue service, said three people had been killed, excluding the bomber, and one injured.

A Reuters photographer at the scene saw ruined cars and three-wheeled scooters overturned by the force of the blast.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

The car bombings come three days after at least 14 people were killed and 10 others wounded in a car bomb blast near the Weheliye hotel on the busy Makka Almukarramah road.

Mogadishu is regularly hit by bomb attacks carried out by the Shabaab which is fighting to overthrow Somalia’s internationally-backed government. The Weheliye hotel was previously attacked by Shabaab gunmen in 2015.

In February twin car bombings left 38 people dead in Mogadishu.

In October last year, Somalia suffered its deadliest-ever terrorist attack in which more than 500 people were killed in a truck bombing in a busy part of the city.

In the wake of that attack, Somalia’s government declared a fresh offensive against Shabaab.

The United States has also stepped up the tempo of drone and missile strikes, and increased its support for ground attacks by US-trained Somali forces.

The Shabaab was pushed out of the capital in 2011 -- and subsequently other towns and cities -- by soldiers from the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).

But the militants still hold sway in large parts of the countryside and launch regular gun and bomb attacks on government, military and civilian targets in Mogadishu and ambushes on military convoys and outposts.

East African leaders contributing to the AMISOM force last month called for the United Nations to reconsider plans to withdraw troops by December 2020, saying the timeline was unrealistic and could lead to a reversal of gains.

Apart from the militancy Somalia is alos the grip of severe drought, however, earlier donor intervention, less interference by a weakened insurgency, a stronger Somali government and greater access for aid workers have been crucial in helping out the Somalis hit by drought.

Another reason is that aid agencies are shifting from giving out food to cash - a less wasteful form of aid that donors such as Canada, Europe and Australia have embraced, although the United States still has restrictions on food aid.


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