UPDATE: Three dead in large explosion targeting interior ministry
Mogadishu was struck by a large explosion and gunfire on Sunday afternoon near the parliament headquarters, according to police and witnesses. Rescue efforts are underway as volunteers work to save lives. Amin Ambulance is reporting that three people have been killed.
Witnesses report hearing a large explosion close to Somalia’s interior ministry just after 4:00 PM local time. The explosion, described as ‘loud’ by residents who are no stranger to explosions and destructions, struck a normally restrictive Sayidka checkpoint at a time that would have been congested.
The extent of the damage is still unknown as security and emergency personnel arrive on the scene. However, Abdikadir Abdirahman, director of Mogadishu’s only ambulance and rescue service confirmed early reports that there are deaths and serious injuries.
Al-Shabaab has claimed responsibility for the attack.
“We are behind the attack at the checkpoint from where the president’s palace, parliament house and the interior ministry of the apostate government are guarded,” said Abdiasis Abu Musab, the group’s spokesman for military operations.
The attack comes just hours after a would-be suicide bomber was killed and a government soldier was injured when Somali security tried to stop a vehicle that tried to force its way through the checkpoint. The suicide bomber detonated his car bomb.
Just three days ago, over 17 people were killed in a similar fashion when an Al-Shabaab militant detonated himself near the crowded Wehliye Hotel.