WASHINGTON - Two suicide car bombs exploded in Mogadishu on Thursday evening, killing at least 15 people, a Somali official told VOA.
The first explosion occurred just after the 8 p.m. local time when a vehicle loaded with explosives were detonated on one of the capital’s busiest streets, Maka Al-Mukarama Road.
Eyewitnesses said dozens of people were sitting outside hotels and restaurants in the area when the bomb exploded.
Journalist Abdishakur Mohamed Mohamoud was sitting outside a coffee shop when it occurred.
“Before the explosion, a street trader saw a parked vehicle with emergency lights on, we suspected the car is exploding, we started to run and then the same car exploded,” Mohamoud told VOA. “It was a huge explosion (heard) throughout the city.”
Mohamoud said saw 13 dead bodies when he returned to the site of the explosion to help some of the wounded. He said among the dead was a well-known imam who used to lead prayers on Maka Al-Mukarama Road for people who could not reach mosques.
We were so lucky to survive the huge blast this evening in #Mogadishu. I and my colleague HM Dahir were sitting down in Maka Almukarama hotel .We first heard gunfire followed by a very demolishing blast The scene changed into darkness.Heavy smoke went high. More bodies were scene pic.twitter.com/JXxn9NdwBK— Mohamed Moalimuu (@MOALIMUU) February 28, 2019
An hour after the explosion, a second one occurred outside another hotel near the busy K4 junction in Mogadishu. There was no confirmation of casualties from the second explosion.
Security officials also reported the sound of gunshots and detonated grenades in buildings near the site of the first explosion. A security official, who asked not to be named, told VOA Somali that several al-Shabab fighters are holed up in the building.
Al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the attack. The group also claimed that they carried out a complex attack on Hotel Maka Al-Mukarama.