Somali capital Mogadishu rocked by huge explosion: Witnesses

Five people died and 23 others were injured after the blast collapsed walls and left cars mangled in heart of city.

A large explosion rocked Somali capital Mogadishu in the early hours on Thursday, triggering a plume of smoke from the blast site amid sounds of gunfire, witnesses have said.

“So far we know five people died and 23 others (were) injured,” Abdikadir Abdirahman, the director of Aamin Ambulance services, told Reuters.

Mohamed Hussein, a nurse at the nearby Osman Hospital, told Reuters that they “were shaken by the blast pressure, then deafened by the gunfire that followed.”

Hussein said he had been pulled from the rubble of a collapsed ceiling. “Our hospital walls collapsed. Opposite us is a school that also collapsed. I do not know how many died,” he said.

The blast near the K4 junction in the heart of the city collapsed the walls of nearby schools and left cars mangled.

Somalia armed group al-Shabaab carried out the attack which was targeting a passing United Nations convoy, Abdiasis Abu Musab, the group’s military operations spokesman told Reuters.

The al-Qaeda-linked armed group said in a statement carried by its Andalus radio that it targeted Western officials being escorted by the African Union peacekeeping convoy.

Al-Shabaab has been fighting Somalia’s central government for years to establish its own rule based on its strict interpretation of sharia law.

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