NAIROBI – A car bomb exploded at a checkpoint in Somalia's capital Wednesday morning, killing three people and wounding six others, a local official said. The al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab extremist group quickly claimed responsibility.
Salah Omar, a spokesman for Mogadishu's mayor, told The Associated Press the blast occurred as soldiers conducted searches at a checkpoint. He said the bomb attached to the vehicle was remotely detonated.
Among the dead were two government officials including an adviser of the parliament speaker and a ministry department director, said Ahmed Mohamednur, a Somali lawmaker.
Al-Shabab often targets checkpoints, hotels and government offices in Somalia's capital despite being pushed out of Mogadishu years ago.
Wednesday's attack follows a devastating truck bombing in Mogadishu on Dec. 28 that killed at least 78 people, including many university students. It was the worst attack in Mogadishu since the devastating 2017 truck bombing that killed hundreds.
On Sunday, al-Shabab fighters overran a key military base used by U.S. counterterror forces in neighboring Kenya, killing three American Department of Defense personnel and destroying several U.S. aircraft and vehicles. The U.S. later sent in additional troops to increase security at the base and adjacent Manda Bay airfield.
It was the first attack by al-Shabab against U.S. forces in Kenya, a country long targeted by the extremist group for sending troops to Somalia to fight it.
The latest attack in Mogadishu again raises concerns about the readiness of Somali forces to take over responsibility for the Horn of Africa country’s security in the coming months from an African Union force.
Al-Shabab, the target of a growing number of U.S. airstrikes since President Donald Trump took office, controls parts of Somalia’s southern and central regions.