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Somalia: Suicide bomber strikes near presidential palace

February 13, 2021

Police in the capital, Mogadishu, fired at the attacker as he broke through a checkpoint, allowing civilians to escape before the explosion.

A member of the security forces walks past wreckage at the scene of a bombing in Mogadishu, Somalia.
The explosion took place as divided Somalia tries to break a national election deadlockImage: Farah Abdi Warsameh/AP Photo/picture alliance

A suicide bomber blew up a car near the presidential palace in Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, on Saturday, injuring at least seven people and destroying dozens of vehicles, police said.

The bomber broke through a checkpoint near the palace and detonated his explosives after police chased and fired at his vehicle, authorities told reporters.

"Security forces foiled a complex attack this morning, firing on the suicide car bomber before he reached his target, allowing many civilians to escape unharmed," a police officer told the German news agency DPA. 

Confusion over death toll

The official police statement said that the only death in the scene was the bomber's, but witnesses reported at least two other deaths, according to the French news agency AFP. 

Wreckage of a car is seen on the scene of the car bomb blast
One witness told AFP that he saw another civilian's body in the scene when he went to collect his uncle's, who died in the blastImage: Sadak Mohamed/AA/picture alliance

Government buildings in Mogadishu have been a target for the al-Qaida affiliated group, Al-Shabab.

The extremists have reportedly claimed responsibility for the attack in a message on pro-insurgent radio station Andalus.

Saturday's blast took place as Somali politicians try to break an election deadlock, and are set to hold talks on the crisis on Monday. Al-Shabab reportedly threatened to attack the polls. 

fb/mm (AFP, AP, dpa)