MOGADISHU, Aug 1 – Two suicide bombers blew themselves up at the gates of Somalia’s constituent assembly on Wednesday, killing themselves but with no other reported deaths, police said.
“Two men wearing suicide bomb vests tried to attack the venue, but they were stopped at the gates, blowing themselves up,” said police official Abdullahi Mohamed.
“Security forces stopped their ambitions of attacking…they were shot and then they detonated their vests,” Interior Minister Abisamad Moalim told reporters, adding that one security guard was wounded in the blast.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, which follows a string of explosions including roadside bombs and grenades that have rocked the Somali capital.
However, Al-Qaeda linked Shebab insurgents have vowed to topple the weak Western-backed government, and have claimed responsibility for previous similar such attacks.
The special assembly, which convened for the first time last week, is tasked with voting on a new constitution for war-torn Somalia, as the graft-riddled government approaches the end of its mandate later this month.
Billed as the key to lifting anarchic Somalia out of two decades of civil war, the end of the transitional government comes as regional forces have wrested a series of key strongholds from the hardline Shebab.
The 825-member National Constituent Assembly (NCA) — chosen by traditional elders in a UN-backed process — were expected to vote on Wednesday on a provisional constitution, before final ratification by a national referendum.
The complicated process is seen as a key step as the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) ends its mandate on August 20, after eight years of infighting and minimal political progress.
Somalia has been without a stable central government since the ouster of former president Siad Barre in 1991.
Mogadishu has seen a series of such attacks since the Shebab abandoned fixed positions there last year and switched to guerrilla tactics against the government, propped up by a 17,000-strong African Union force.
The Shebab face increasing pressure from pro-government forces and regional armies, having lost a series of key towns and strategic bases in recent months. However, experts warn they are far from defeated and remain a major threat.