At least nine people were killed in a suicide attack targeting a government security convoy near the airport in the Somali capital, Mogadishu.
Witnesses said the blast occurred near a checkpoint on the road to the heavily fortified perimeter of the airport.
“A massive explosion with smoke rising into the sky destroyed nearby buildings and cars parked on the road,” witness Aden Nur, a three-wheeled motorcycle taxi driver, told reporters at the scene.
Somali police spokesman Abdifatah Hassan Ali said nine people were killed and nine injured in the explosion.
Deputy mayor of Mogadishu, Ali Yare Ali, who was in the convoy, increased the death toll to 10.
Sources close to the government told INVALID that the convoy was led by a private security company, but it was not immediately clear who else was in the convoy.
Several other witnesses at the scene said a passing UN convoy was the target of a suicide attack.
Abdulkadir Adan, founder of the Aamin ambulance service, said his team carried at least eight bodies and nine injured.
The militant group Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it targeted a convoy accompanying the Somali government and foreign officials.
The al-Qaeda-linked group frequently attacks government officials in an attempt to overthrow the central government and impose rigid interpretations of Islamic law.
The US Embassy in Mogadishu condemned the attack.
“The United States strongly condemns the terrorist attack in Mogadishu today. Our condolences to the victims and their families who were tragically killed and injured.”
The blast comes days after Somali leaders agreed on a new schedule for the long-delayed elections amid a feud between Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble and President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed. [mg/ka]