Seynab Abukar contributed this report from Mogadishu.
A suspected al-Shabab suicide bomber killed at least six people Wednesday and injured six others, including the mayor of the Somali capital Mogadishu, witnesses and security officials said.
The attack took place at local government headquarters in Mogadishu, where Mayor, Abdirahman Omar Osman — who is also the governor of Banadir — was meeting with his deputies and the city's district chairpersons about security challenges, Deputy Mayor Mohamed Tulah told state-run Radio Mogadishu.
Al-Shabab is claiming responsibility for the attack, and the terrorist group says it was targeting the U.N. Special Envoy to Somalia James Swan, an American national who had met with the mayor prior to the attack.
Swan strongly condemned the attack, saying, "I deplore this heinous attack which not only demonstrates a violent disregard for the sanctity of human life, but also targets Somalis working to improve the lives of their fellow Somalis in the Mogadishu-Banadir region. The United Nations stands with the people and government of Somalia in their rejection of such terrorist acts, and our thoughts are with the victims of this attack."
Tulah said, "We ask people in the city to show calm, and we reaffirm that such terrorist attacks would not deter us from performing our national duty."
At a press conference shortly after the bombing, Somali information minister Mohamed Abdi Hayir Mareere said two district commissioners and three regional directors were among the dead.
He said the governor and five others, including government officials, sustained injuries.
"We heard a huge blast, and then a black plume of smoke rose from the meeting hall of the headcounters' compound," a security guard at the compound told VOA.
Another witness who was inside the compound told VOA on the condition of anonymity that he saw the mayor with blood stains on his shirt being taken into a vehicle.