According to a security officer, at least six people were murdered in the Somali capital on Thursday in a suspected suicide bombing at a restaurant near a security checkpoint going to the presidential palace.
“The area was highly packed when the incident happened, and some of the victims, the most of them were civilians,” security officer Abdullahi Muktar told AFP.
He stated that six individuals were killed and 12 were injured.
“The event is still being examined to determine the exact specifics, but preliminary observations indicate that the blast was carried out by someone,” he added.
In a statement issued to media, Mogadishu’s Aamin Ambulance Service acknowledged the dead, but stated the attack injured 13.
“The bomb was massive, and I witnessed ambulances taking wounded individuals, some of whom had significant injuries,” said witness Mohamed Tahlil.
Mogadishu has experienced a surge in assaults in recent weeks as Somalia struggles to overcome a political crisis brought on by long-running tensions about postponed elections.
Somalia’s president and prime minister have been at odds over the process, which has been delayed for more than a year and has been plagued by violence.
Somalia’s elections follow a complicated indirect process in which state legislatures and clan delegates select members for the national parliament, who then select the president.
Voting for the upper house ended last year, but clan delegates have elected around 40% of the 275 MPs who sit in the lower house thus far.
The electoral standoff has concerned Somalia’s foreign sponsors, who are concerned that it would divert attention away from the war against al-Shabaab, the al-Qaeda-linked terrorist organization that has been fighting the country’s weak central government for more than a decade.
On Tuesday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced a decision to limit visas for current or former Somali officials, as well as individuals “believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, obstructing the democratic process in Somalia.”
“This policy will apply to individuals who have participated in procedural irregularities that have undermined the electoral process, who have failed to follow through on their obligations to implement timely and transparent elections, and who have harassed, intimidated, arrested, and harmed journalists and opposition party members.”
Al-Shabaab forces were forced out of Mogadishu in 2011 by an African Union invasion, but they still control wide swaths of rural Somalia from which they conduct frequent attacks in the city and beyond.