At least five killed in Mogadishu bomb blast
MOGADISHU - A former Somali foreign minister was among five killed Wednesday when a car bomb exploded in the capital Mogadishu, according to the country's information minister.
The bombing was claimed by Islamist militant group Al-Shabaab, which said in a statement it had targeted a convoy escorting officials and lawmakers heading to the presidential palace.
The car bomb exploded at a security checkpoint as soldiers were conducting checks on vehicles on the main road. A white column of smoke rose over the seaside city as gunfire rang out and people scattered.
"The security forces stopped... a vehicle loaded with explosives which was aiming to target a security forces base. We have confirmed five killed and 11 wounded in the blast," deputy police chief Zakia Hussein wrote on Twitter.
Information Minister Mohamed Abdi Hayr told a press conference that former foreign minister Hussein Elabe Faahiye, who served under former premier Ali Mohamed Gedi in 2007 and was an adviser to the current president, was among those killed.
Witness Mohamed Saney said he had seen a female soldier among the dead.
"Several vehicles were destroyed in the blast and ambulances rushed to the scene to collect wounded people."
Al-Qaeda-linked Shabaab fighters have been fighting for more than a decade to topple the government. They fled positions they once held in Mogadishu in 2011, and have since lost many of their strongholds.
But they retain control of large rural swathes of the country, and continue to wage a guerrilla war against the authorities.