Car bomb kills 5 near Somalia’s presidential palace: Police | world-news | Hindustan Times
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Car bomb kills 5 near Somalia’s presidential palace: Police

At least five people were killed when a minibus laden with explosives blew up in Mogadishu on Tuesday, just as the troubled country’s new prime minister unveiled his government lineup.

world Updated: Mar 21, 2017 22:38 IST
Somalia
Mogadishu : Somali soldiers stand near the wreckage of a car bomb attack that targeted a checkpoint in Mogadishu, Somalia Tuesday, March 21, 2017. (AP Photo)

At least five people were killed when a minibus laden with explosives blew up in Mogadishu on Tuesday, just as the troubled country’s new prime minister unveiled his government lineup.

The blast, the latest attack in the Somali capital believed to be the work of Al-Qaeda linked Shabaab extremists, occurred at a checkpoint just 500 metres (yards) from the presidential palace.

“The vehicle was stopped at the checkpoint for security screening when it went off. At least five people were killed including security personnel and 10 others wounded,” said Abdifatah Omar Halane, spokesman for the Mogadishu city administration.

“The blast was so huge, I saw smoke and dust all over the area,” local resident Abdukadir Yusuf said.

“I was on top of my house not very far away from the area, it was near the theatre and close to the presidential palace.”

Somalia’s new Prime Minister Hassan Ali Kheyre also Tuesday announced his new cabinet, made up of 26 ministers including six women, after almost a month of political bargaining.

- ‘Bloodthirsty elements’ -

The Shabaab, which is fighting to overthrow the government, has been blamed for a string of attacks in Mogadishu and regional towns.

The Shabaab was forced out of the capital by African Union troops in 2011 but still controls parts of the countryside and carries out guerrilla attacks against government, military and civilian targets.

Last week, at least five people were killed and 12 others injured in two separate car bombings in Mogadishu.

“I promise that we will deal with those bloodthirsty elements with an iron fist,” Kheyre said at the time.

As well as insecurity, Somalia is also battling famine, with three million people going hungry because of a drought that is also affecting other parts of Africa.

Somalia declared a national disaster over the drought on February 28. The country is among three nations on the verge of famine, along with Yemen and Nigeria. In South Sudan, 100,000 people are already in famine conditions.

It is the third famine in the 25 years that Somalia has been embroiled in civil war and anarchy, including in 2011 when 260,000 people died.

- ‘Give us a chance’ -

Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, also known as Farmajo, had warned after his election in February that there would be no quick fixes for the country after decades of repeated cycles of drought and insecurity.

Kheyre’s new cabinet contains the largest number of women since the collapse of Siad Barre’s military regime in 1991 and appears aimed at reconciling the country’s clans.

“I want ensure you that this country has chosen the path of change and we ask for your prayers,” he told reporters.

Parliament still has to give its approval for the new government, and Kheyre -- a political newcomer -- also appealed to the public to give his new lineup a chance.

After his nomination in February, Kheyre -- also spelt Khaire -- had promised to work “tirelessly” with the president.

Tensions between Somali presidents and their prime ministers in recent years have frequently stymied government business and undermined political progress in the fragile nation.

Kheyre is, like Farmajo, from the diaspora, holding dual Norwegian and Somali citizenship.

The 49-year-old has been a regional director of the Norwegian Refugee Council charity and a director of controversial British oil company Soma Oil and Gas.