Mogadishu, Somalia, Jun 20 – At least 10 people were killed Tuesday when Shabaab Islamists drove an explosives-laden minibus into local government offices in the Somali capital Mogadishu, according to the security ministry.
The minibus rammed through a security barrier outside offices in the southern district of Wadajir, injuring nine people including the district’s top government official.
“More than 10 people died in the blast which was carried out by the Shabaab group and nine others are wounded,” said security ministry spokesman Ahmed Mohamud Mohamed.
Most of the dead were civilians, he said.
“Security guards tried to stop (the minibus) but it managed to get in and the vehicle blew up,” local security official Omar Adan told AFP.
Another security official, Abdi Jilibey, said more than 18 people were injured and that some of the bodies were so badly burnt as to be unrecognisable.
The attack was claimed by Al-Qaeda linked Shabaab militants.
“A martyrdom suicide bomber drove a vehicle loaded with explosives onto the district headquarters which was the target, and where district authorities and intelligence officials were meeting at the time,” said a statement carried by pro-Shabaab website somalimemo.net.
It was the second major attack by the Shabaab this Ramadan, a time when there is often an uptick in extremist Islamist assaults in the country.
Last Thursday, at least 18 people were killed when six Shabaab militants launched a strike on two neighbouring restaurants in Mogadishu.
After a massive blast from a suicide car bombing, the gunmen roamed the restaurants, killing people they found trapped inside before security forces intervened and killed them.
The Shabaab group, which wants to impose a Taliban-style rule on Somalia, has been fighting for the last decade to overthrow successive internationally-backed governments in Mogadishu.
It has also launched attacks in Kenya and Uganda, both contributors to a 22,000-strong African Union force in the country.
Although pushed out of the capital in 2011, the group still controls parts of the countryside and launches regular suicide bombings and raids in the capital against civilian, government and military targets.