At least eight people were killed and several others wounded in a car bomb attack Sunday in the Somali capital, Mogadishu. The attack occurred two days before a conference in London to rally international support for Somalia.
The bombing in the busy K4 neighborhood in the capital targeted a convoy carrying a delegation visiting from Qatar.
Police say the officials escaped unharmed, while bystanders were killed and wounded in the blast.
A medic at the scene of the attack, Mohamoud Yarow, said the damage was extensive.
"Some people were killed and others were injured," he said. Vehicles were damaged, and officials are collecting the dead and wounded and assessing what happened,"
The al-Qaida linked militant group al-Shabab has claimed responsibility for the attack.
Despite losing ground to a concerted military operation by regional forces, the militants have continued to launch sporadic attacks. Last month, more than 30 people were killed when al-Shabab fighters stormed the Supreme Court complex in Mogadishu.
The government imposed a lockdown on the capital last week, closing streets and putting up roadblocks, because of alleged security threats.
District Commissioner Abdi Mohamoud Warsame said Sunday’s attack could have been worse, if not for the added security.
"In the past days the streets were closed but the public protested about it. They asked why they were restricted, but the government knows much that you do not know. This would have been much worse if the measures were not taken," he said.
Somali officials are due in London Tuesday for a conference bringing together international partners to help rebuild Somalia.
Al-Shabab still controls towns and villages in southern Somalia, while the new government is working to strengthen national institutions weakened after two decades of civil war.