At least a dozen people have been killed in a car bomb attack near Somalia's defense ministry compound in Mogadishu. The attack comes just days after Somalia's president announced a military offensive against al-Shabab.
A car bomb that exploded outside a military base in the Somali capital on Sunday has killed at least 15 people, a military official said. Authorities have warned, however, that the death toll could rise as a minibus carrying passengers was also destroyed in the blast.
"At least 15 people, mostly civilians, died in the blast," Major Hussein Nur, a military official, said.
"We do not know the exact figure of casualties. All the people on board the ruined minibus perished. Soldiers and other private security guards also died," he said.
Somalia's new military chief, Gen. Mohamed Ahmed Jimale, survived the suicide bomb attack. The general, who had just been sworn into office, was traveling in a convoy with senior military officials when the bomb exploded near Somalia's defense ministry compound, police said.
"What happened here was a painful tragedy - the blast struck two packed minibuses and no one survived," said Abdifitah Halane, a spokesman for Mogadishu's mayor.
Extremist group claims attack
In a brief statement on the Islamist extremist militant group's radio station, Radio Andalus, al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the suicide bomb.
The attack came just days after Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed Farmajo announced a military offensive against al-Shabab. Last week, he said fighters would be allowed to surrender and relinquish their weapons within 60 days.
ksb/se (AP, Reuters, dpa)