, MOGADISHU, Feb 27 – A car bomb exploded near a cafe in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu Thursday in an area close to the intelligence headquarters, killing at least seven people, police said.
“We have counted seven civilians killed in the car bomb, but the toll could be higher as many people were also wounded,” police official Ahmed Mumin told AFP.
The cafe, near the city’s Lido beach, was reportedly popular with security officials.
The blast is the latest in a string of attacks in the dangerous capital, where Al-Qaeda-linked Shabaab insurgents are fighting to topple the internationally backed government.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but the blast comes just a week after the militants carried out a major attack against the heavily fortified presidential palace, killing officials and guards in a fierce gun battle.
The attack comes amid an apparent upsurge of Shabaab bombings in and around Mogadishu, with night-time mortar rounds fired into the vast, heavily guarded airport complex, home to the 22,000-strong African Union force fighting the Shabaab as well as foreign diplomats and aid workers.
The group, who also carried out last year’s attack at the Westgate shopping mall in the Kenyan capital, in which gunmen killed at least 67 people, once controlled most of southern and central Somalia but withdrew from fixed positions in the war-ravaged coastal capital two years ago.
AU troops – including large contingents from Uganda, Kenya and Burundi – have since recaptured the insurgents’ main bases and tried to prop up Somalia’s fledgling government forces.