Attack Near Presidential Palace Kills Several In Somalia

A car bomb is said to have exploded at a military checkpoint near the Presidential Palace in Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital.

At least 5 people are reportedly dead from the Presidential Palace attack.

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“At least five people were killed including security personnel and 10 others wounded,” said Abdifatah Omar Halane, spokesman for the Mogadishu administration, told AFP news agency.

Captain Mohammed Hussein, a Somalian policeman added that the death toll was likely to rise due to pedestrians in the vicinity of the Presidential palace at the time of the attack.

The Presidential palace attack comes moments after the Somali Prime Minister appointed new cabinet members.

Farhio Hussein, a journalist at Radio Kulmiye told Al Jazeera some Somali soldiers at the checkpoint in downtown Mogadishu were casualties of the blast.

“I was at the radio station when I heard huge bang of the explosion. I opened the window and saw huge black smoke. I counted five charred bodies lying on the scene,” Hussein said.

Although there was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast, Islamic militant group, al-Shabab is suspected to have been responsible. The extremists have in time past made similar assaults using car bombs.

The Al-Qaeda-affiliated extremists have been battling the Somali government for years. Although they were chased out of the capital in 2011 by African Union troops, they are still prevalent in some areas in Somalia and often carry out attacks in the capital.

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Somalia elected a new president in February. The election took place at the Aden Adde International Airport in Mogadishu due to threats from Al-Shabab to disrupt the election. The electoral system which saw only 1% of the population to vote directly was also hinged on security concerns for Somalis.