6 killed in blast at Mogadishu army checkpoint – official

MOGADISHU, Somalia – At least 6 people, mostly soldiers, were killed when a bomb exploded at an army checkpoint in Mogadishu, the second blast on Thursday, December 15, in the troubled Somali capital.

"Six people, most of them soldiers, were killed (by the bomb) which was planted under a tree close to a security checkpoint," said Mogadishu administration spokesman Abdifatah Omar Halane.

"Several others are also wounded."

Witnesses said the area was bustling with soldiers and civilians when the explosion occurred.

"The situation was okay and everybody was busy minding their business when the blast went off near the checkpoint. I saw several dead people including soldiers but most of the wounded were civilians," said witness Mohamed Nure.

The blast came just hours after a car loaded with explosives was driven into a government building which houses a popular restaurant.

"The driver died and several other people were wounded," said Somali police commander Mohamed Dahir.

Two employees of a local radio station inside the building were among the injured.

"The car rolled over after striking the building but luckily (the explosives) did not go off for a few minutes. People managed to run away and casualties were very minimal," said Abdirahman Ali, who witnessed the blast.

There has been an uptick in attacks in Mogadishu as the country is in the process of electing a new government with the much-delayed presidential vote due on December 28.

On Sunday 20 people were killed in a suicide truck bombing claimed by the Al-Qaeda-linked Shabaab group.

The Shabaab is fighting to overthrow the internationally-backed government of Somalia and regularly stages deadly attacks on government, military and civilian targets in the capital and elsewhere in the war-torn country. – Rappler.com