NAIROBI, Kenya – A massive explosion left at least eight people dead and nine others injured in Mogadishu on Wednesday, according to the head of an ambulance service, the latest attack on the Somali capital as the The country is grappling with political infighting and a growing humanitarian crisis.
The car explosion happened just before noon on the road leading to Mogadishu’s international airport, according to Abdulkadir Adan, founder of Aamin Ambulance, Mogadishu’s only free ambulance service. The street also houses a large police academy and a complex where UN and foreign government employees and officials live.
The bombing, part of a series of attacks was blamed on the Qaeda-linked Al Shabab extremist group that has gripped Somalia in recent months, coming as the country’s leaders are grappling with a political crisis that has distracted the government. from the deteriorating security situation.
Somali Memo, a news website affiliated with Al Shabab, said the militants claimed responsibility for the attack on Wednesday. It said the group had targeted “a convoy of vehicles carrying white security personnel.”
Mohamed Ibrahim Moalimuu, a government spokesman, condemned what he described as a suicide attack, calling it “cowardly.”
“Such acts of terrorism will not disrupt the peaceful order and development going on in the country,” he wrote on Twitter. “We must unite in the fight against terrorism.”
Details of how the attack was conducted were not immediately released. A spokesman for Somali police did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Photos and videos posted on social media showed a plume of smoke rising from an overturned vehicle at the site of the bombing along with damaged buildings. Witnesses said explosions could be heard in several districts of the city.
The outburst has affected the country as the country is going through a tense election period, which has seen increasing internal strife among its political leaders.
In December, President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble suspended against allegations of corruption. Mr. Roble refused to resign, claiming that Mr. Mohamed – whose official period expires in Februarybut who was already in office – trying to “overthrow the government, the Constitution, and the laws of the land.”
The political struggle has threatened to plunge the country into violent conflict, like the clashes that broke out in Apriland reverse the pattern of peace and stability that Somalia has achieved in recent years.
After weeks of controversy, Mr. Mohamed on Monday support a plan by the prime minister and other regional leaders to wrap up parliamentary elections on February 25 – more than a year after they were originally scheduled. On Tuesday, Ned Price, a spokesman for the State Department, called on Somali officials to finalize the long-delayed election and resolve divisions that have impeded progress.
“The United States is prepared to use relevant tools, potentially including visa restrictions, to respond to further delays or actions that undermine the integrity of the process.” submit,” Mr. Price said.
On Thursday, Mr Roble’s supporters are expected to rally in the capital to show support for the prime minister, a move that could increase tensions.
As disagreements over the election continued, Al Shabab intensified their attacks, especially in the capital. Over the past two months, the team has made car bomb explosiongovernment officials were assassinated and raided vote centers – efforts that analysts say were aimed at sabotaging the electoral process.
The militant group has taken advantage of the infighting between Somali political forces by attacking and capturing towns where they have been inactive for more than a decade.
The country’s instability has also been exacerbated by political divisions in the semi-autonomous northeastern state of Puntland, where clashes between government forces – including an elite US-made unit created – diverted attention from the fight against Al Shabab.
The security situation in Somalia is deteriorating, and parts of the country facing their driest season yet for about four decades. An estimated 3.8 million people are experiencing severe food insecurity, according to the United Nationswith nearly three million internally displaced people.
“As long as the current election cycle and tensions persist, the attention of political elites will become more concentrated,” said Omar S. Mahmood, senior Somalia analyst at the International Crisis Group. inward, while other priorities lag behind.” “Unfortunately, this creates a larger space for Al Shabab to operate.”
Hussein Mohamed Reporting contributions from Mogadishu, Somalia.
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/12/world/africa/somalia-car-bomb.html Car bomb in Mogadishu, capital of Somalia, kills 8 people