At least 18 people have been killed and 20 others sustained injuries when a pair of car bombings, carried out by the al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabab terrorist group, hit the Somali capital of Mogadishu, police say.
According to Press TV, police said both attacks were carried out almost simultaneously in two different parts of the capital on Friday afternoon, adding that the first explosives-laden car went off after militants breached a checkpoint near the president’s residence, the Villa Somalia, by shooting at security guards.
“The militants got off when they neared the palace, the … car bomb exploded outside the palace where there were many military soldiers who guarded the street adjacent to the palace,” said Major Omar Abdullahi.
The second blast took place when another explosives-ridden vehicle, parked in front of a hotel away from the palace, detonated.
“Another car loaded with explosives went off close to a recently opened hotel,” said police officer Ibrahim Mohamed.
The al-Shabab terror group, in a statement posted online, claimed responsibility for the attack shortly after the blasts rocked Mogadishu, further claiming that its militants had killed 15 soldiers in the process, but this could not be confirmed.
Meanwhile, Security Minister Mohamed Abukar Islow said the security forces had managed to subdue the terrorists and killed five of them.
“The security minister confirmed the operation was concluded and that the five militants who launched the attack were shot dead,” the state news agency quoted him as saying.
The explosions follow weeks of relative calm in the capital.