A car bomb has exploded inside a bustling marketplace in Somalia's capital Mogadishu. The preliminary death toll stands at 10 people but is expected to climb considerably, medical sources said.
Militants targeted a central Afisiyone marketplace in southern Mogadishu on Saturday, causing carnage and killing at least 10 people and wounding twice as many in the densely populated area, police said.
"There was chaos and severed dead bodies strewn around the street," eyewitness Abdulahi Osman told the Agence France-Presse news agency, "The market was so busy with people shopping when the blast ripped through the area. I saw many dead bodies but I could not count, I have helped collect more than 10 of them."
There has been no claim of responsibility, but suspicion fell immediately on the Al-Qaeda linked Islamist al-Shabab group, which is fighting a bloody insurrection against the Somali government.
Security official Mohamed Hassan told the Deutsche Presse-Agentur news agency that authorities had made one arrest and only civilians were harmed in the attack. "The security forces were on patrol at the time of the blast and the attacker got out of the car and tried to escape on foot," said Hassan. "The attacker then detonated the car full of explosives by remote control."
Some 15 people were killed in an al-Shabab attack in August after militants detonated a car bomb outside a prominent hotel near the presidential palace.
Wave of al-Shabab attacks continues
Al-Shabab seeks to establish an Islamic emirate ruled by a strict version of Shariah law. It regularly targets security forces and officials from within the relatively weak UN-backed government. Bystanders are regularly killed or wounded by its indiscriminate bombing attacks. More than 22,000 peacekeepers are deployed in Somalia in the multi-national African Union force. Al-Shabab opposes the presence of foreign troops and regularly attacks foreign interests and peacekeepers in the Region.
jar/jlw (AP, AFP)