A suicide car bomber has killed at least eight people in Somalia's capital, with a government official believed to have been targeted. Police said it was one of the worst attacks in Mogadishu in recent months.
The attack happened on Monday along the Maka al Mukarram road that runs between the capital's palace and the national theater. Mogadishu police said the suicide bomber set off explosives meant for a government official.
"The suicide car bomber targeted a senior national security officer whose car was passing near the theater," a senior police official, Abdiqadir Mohamud, told the news agency Reuters. He added that the official had been injured.
"Most of the people who died were on aboard the minibus - civilians. This public vehicle coincidentally came between the government car and the car bomb when it was hit. Littered at the scene are human hands and flesh," said Mohamud.
The blast happened close to the Somali government's headquarters. It could be heard several miles away in the central business district.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the blast, but al Qaeda-linked militants al Shebab have recently launched a series of attacks in Mogadishu. The insurgents have vowed to topple the president, Hassan Sheikh Modamud, who took office last September after being chosen by Somalia's parliament.
Al Shebab has been waging an insurgency against the Somali government since 2007. In the past year-and-a-half, African Union forces have been able to push the Islamist group out of Mogadishu, but the rebels continue to carry out suicide attacks in the capital.
Last November, suicide bombers targeted a popular restaurant in the capital, killing at least one person.
jr/pfd (Reuters, AFP, AP)