MOGADISHU, SOMALIA - Somali security officials say a car bomb blast in the capital has killed at least seven people.
A spokesman for the Mogadishu administration, Abdifatah Omar Halane, told VOA that a car exploded Thursday near a busy bus stop in Hamarweyne District.
“What happened was a car bomb hit a mini-bus. At least seven people were killed and six others injured,” Halane told VOA Somali.
Multiple witnesses told VOA that the victims were civilians at the bus stop and nearby.
The exact target of the blast remains unclear but witnesses say a government security forces vehicle was passing by when the blast occurred.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack. Somalia-based extremist group al-Shabab often carries out deadly bombings in Mogadishu, but security officials say recent operations have reduced the number of militant-orchestrated explosions in the city.
In a possible change of tactics, the militants have increased their use of targeted assassinations. This month alone, at least five civilians and two government security officials were gunned down in the city.
On Wednesday, gunmen killed Anab Abdullahi, the secretary general of Somalia’s national women’s organization, and Ahmed Jama, the son of the organization’s chairwoman, in a drive-by shooting in Mogadishu.
Other victims have included a senior military officer, General Abdullahi Mohamed Sheikh Qururuh, and a senior intelligence officer, Mohamud Moallim Hassan Qoley.
Speaking at a news conference Thursday, top government security officials said the assassinations, all claimed by al-Shabab, are unacceptable.
“We have blocked some back alleyways and deployed security personnel across the city and still assassinations are being carried out. This is unacceptable. It shows negligence by those responsible for the security,” said the minister of internal security, Mohamed Abukar Islow.
He warned that officials in charge of the city’s security, including him, will lose their jobs if they cannot explain why the killings continue and the perpetrators often escape.
Analysts say militants often step up their attacks in times of political crisis and when the government is under pressure. There is a growing political dispute between the federal government and three of the country’s regional states.
The dispute came when the authorities of the Galmudug, Puntland and South West regions said they have cut ties with Qatar, while the federal government has said it will stay neutral in the Gulf nation’s dispute with other Arab states.
Somalia’s provisional constitution says only the federal government has the authority to reach decisions on immigration, defense, monetary policy and foreign affairs, but some regions dispute it.