NEW: Al-Shabaab claims credit for an attack it said targeted senior police and regional officials
The blast apparently targeted a Somalian governor; he escaped unhurt, police say
Somalia had its most dangerous year for terrorism in 2014 with over 800 deaths, a study found
At least three people were killed and seven wounded Saturday when a car packed with explosives exploded outside a shopping mall in Somalia’s capital, a senior police official said.
Police Col. Ahmed Hassan said the attack apparently was aimed at Hussein Wehliye Irfo, the governor of central Somalia’s Galgaduud region. The explosions happened a few meters from his convoy on Makka Al Mukarama Street in Mogadishu.
Irfo escaped the blast unharmed, according to Hassan.
Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the bombing, spokesman Abdulaziz Abu Musab said on the terrorist group’s radio station.
The spokesman claimed that the blasted targeted senior police and regional officials, claiming that a district commissioner was among the wounded. But police said that all those killed were civilians.
The Global Terrorism Index, an annual report crafted by the Institute for Economics and Peace, noted that Somalia has been among the 10 countries most affected by terrorism for the past eight years.
And it hasn’t gotten much better, with the report indicating that in 2014 the nation on the Horn of Africa saw its highest levels of terrorism in its history, with 801 deaths tied to some 469 incidents, both of which are roughly double those of the previous year.
Al-Shabaab, a militant group that wants to turn Somalia into a fundamentalist Islamic state, has been behind much of this violence. This includes an attack – which features multiple bombs and gunfire – last month at a popular hotel in Mogadishu that killed at least 15 people, according to medical and police officials.
Somalia’s government has fought back, sometimes with help from the U.S. military in raids or drone strikes.
This bloodshed comes at a time of apparent turmoil within Al-Shabaab and in Africa’s terrorist landscape generally.
Its leadership pledged loyalty to al Qaeda in 2012. But this fall, a high-ranking Al-Shabaab member and spiritual leader publicly sided with ISIS, a terror group that established itself in Iraq and Syria but that’s made inroads elsewhere.
Journalist Omar Nor reported from Mogadishu, and CNN’s Greg Botelho reported and wrote from Atlanta.