The Islamist militant group al-Shabab has claimed responsibility for two deadly attacks in Somalia on Monday, with at least nine people killed in a car bombing in downtown Mogadishu and another man shot dead at a port in the country's semi-autonomous region of Puntland.
In Mogadishu, a powerful car bomb went off around 10 a.m. local time near one of the the city's biggest shopping centers, the Mogadishu Mall, in the oldest district of Hamarweyne.
Mogadishu's Aamin Ambulance service told journalists that they recovered nine bodies – including those of three women – and evacuated seven injured victims. Security sources also told VOA Somali that a senior security official was killed in the attack.
"Innocent people were killed," a man who survived the attack told a group of journalists, including one representing VOA Somali service. “We pulled a woman and her son from under the rubble.”
An al-Shabab spokesman said on a pro-Shabab website that the group had planned the car bombing to target a meeting of regional and security officials at the nearby governor’s headquarters.
The militant group also said it was responsible for fatally shooting a manager of a Dubai government-owned port in the Puntland town of Bosaso.
Police identified the man as Paul Anthony Formosa, manager of P&O Ports. The shooting occurred near the port of Bosaso as the victim, said to be a citizen of Malta, walked to work around 7:15 a.m.
P&O Ports is a subsidiary of the United Arab Emirates' global port operator Dubai Ports World. P&O, which has a 30-year concession to manage the Bosaso Port, began running it in October 2017. The Associated Press said the development deal is worth $336 million.
Colonel Mohamed Ali Hashi, police commander at the port, said Formosa, a co-worker and two soldiers working as bodyguards walked from their residence near the port when the attack occurred around 7:15am local time.
“A young man with a hidden pistol quickly caught up with the manager, his team and his bodyguards and opened fire,” Hashi said. He added that Formosa was killed and the soldiers and co-worker were injured.
Hashi said the alleged attacker was shot, wounded and apprehended.
Puntland regional leader Said Abdullahi Deni condemned the “terrorist” attack against the port manager.
‘This is not just a terrorist attack, this is an act is intended to undermine the development of people in Puntland,” he said, promising a “merciless, stern response” to the attack's instigators.
Fadumo Yasin Jama and Abdulkadir Mohamed Abdulle contributed to this VOA Somali service report from Bosaso and Mogadishu.